Drone Port: Would you Like to See the Drones in Action for Yourself?


Water drone is Rotterdam’s latest port innovation

Rotterdam has always been a port of pioneers.  Originating from the ‘insane’ plan of Pieter Caland to build the Nieuwe Waterweg, new solutions that make the port of Rotterdam smarter, more efficient, better and more sustainable are thought up constantly.  One of the latest developments is the water drone.  It is worth recalling the poetic entrepreneur’s statement that a poetic entrepreneur once said – innovation flows through Rotterdam, like the water through the Maas.

Allard Castelein, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, says that this is definitely true.  Not because it is ‘nice to have’, but because it is a necessary step towards a successful future.  Therefore, the Port Authority is fully committed to all possible ways of innovation.  Innovation cannot be forced.  However, you can create an environment in which innovation is likely to take place and be in line with the market.

Innovation Ecosystem

The Port Authority achieves this through an Innovation Ecosystem.

Castelein: They support research in conjunction with universities, such as the Port Innovation Lab with Delft University of Technology and of course our own Erasmus University in Rotterdam.  They collaborate with contests for students.  In addition, we support Dutch start-ups that are relevant to the port, but we also scout worldwide via PortXL; the first accelerator that focuses on port start-ups on a global level.

Unmanned water drone inspects the port

The water drones active in the port today are among the results of the Innovation Eco System.  A drone, the AquasmartXL, is a small, unmanned boat, equipped with a camera.  It sends images in real time to the quay, thus providing a flexible solution for surveillance and inspection from the water surface.

Waste Shark hunts waste

Another drone is the Waste Shark, which is a good size bigger than the AquasmartXL.  The device, the size of a passenger car, has an ‘open mouth’ that is located at 35 centimetres below the water surface used to remove up to 500 kilos of waste from the water.  The waste is then processed.

Plans for various trials in the port of Rotterdam

For the next six months, four ‘waste sharks’ will perform a test run for the Port of Rotterdam Authority to clean up litter in the Rotterdam docks.  The Aquadrone can also be encountered live in the port.  The drone inspects concrete structures for an oil terminal and visualises them in 3D.  This is done at places where it is too difficult, dangerous or undesirable to use manned solutions.  This includes under jetties, bridges and other structures.

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Source: Port of Rotterdam