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On 22 May, the Port of Rotterdam marked the first delivery of a parts consignment to Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit, as part of a pilot project involving Dutch Drone Delta, Allseas and the Port of Rotterdam.

The project has been set up to determine ‘whether and how drone deliveries could increase transport efficiency in the Port of Rotterdam,’ said a statement from the port.

The drone delivery last week is said to be the first to a ship in the Netherlands. The ‘journey’ was directly monitored by human observers but in the near future it will be handled entirely beyond the pilot’s physical line of sight.

‘Utilising new technologies allows us to make our port smarter, more streamlined, more efficient and safer. The current pilot project is a prime example: it makes a significant contribution to more efficient transport in general; and in due time, it will specifically help to reduce the pressure on our road network,’ said Port Authority adviser Ingrid Römers.

‘We intend to safely structure our airspace under the slogan “Rotterdam, the safest port to fly”. The results of this pilot project can also serve as input for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management when it drafts the required legislation and regulations.’

Stephan van Vuren, one of the people behind the Dutch Drone Delta initiative, also noted: ‘The sky’s the limit when it comes to using drones in the port area. Incident prevention and control, for instance; or water pollution; firefighting; monitoring port operations or damage.

‘Other examples include everything from systems and bridge inspections, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, and deliveries to ships and oil rigs, to the rapid medical transport of blood and human organs. And in the longer term, we may even be seeing heavy freight deliveries and passenger transport.

‘This pilot project in the port of Rotterdam has allowed us to directly demonstrate the added value of drone technology in a complex environment.’

Other global ports are also investigating opportunities to deploy drones to streamline shore to ship operations. In early May, Bunkerspot reported that the shipping and logistics provider GAC Group is working with the Singapore-based start-up F-drones to develop large-scale drones that could be used to make deliveries to ships and offshore platforms, including fuel sample operations.

A video of the drone delivery at the Port of Rotterdam can be accessed here

In the upcoming June/July issue of Bunkerspot magazine, Ian Taylor talks to Lars Bergström, Group Vice President, Asia Pacific & Indian Subcontinent of GAC Group, and Nicolas Ang, Co-founder & CEO of F-drones to find how drone delivery technology could be adapted to the needs of the bunker industry.


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