Drone testing for assistance with operations in the North Sea will commence next week

Through a European test project between France and Belgium, a drone will be used for the first time this summer to support rescue operations in the North Sea. The drone will help detect small boats and drowning people and contribute to fishery regulation and the detection of environmental pollution in the North Sea. This information was given by the minister of mobility, Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) in response to a question from N-VA MP Bert Maertens.

The project, which runs from 13 May until 13 September, is coordinated by the European agency EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency). In Belgium, the Flemish Agency for Maritime Services and the Coast (MDK) is the central point of contact. Like France, Belgium will have the drone available for 20 hours a week during the test period. A similar use of drones started years ago in the port of Antwerp.

"During the trial period, the suitability of the drone for various maritime service tasks will be tested," says Maertens. "The drone will detect anomalies, such as small boats, drowning people or floating objects on the water. In the event of an incident, the drone will be used to measure the damage incurred to a ship. The capabilities of the drone are also tested during regular 'search and rescue' exercises."

In the longer term, the intention is to conduct tests where the drone can take off in the event of an emergency. During this test period, the drone will mainly work with planned test flights.


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