Smart transport en industry 4.0

“Drone” is the collective name used for unmanned vehicles and vessels. Drones on land, in the water and in the air will make it easier in the future to conduct inspections and carry out logistical tasks in the port. Tests with these drones are already well underway.

There will soon be unmanned vessels navigating their way around inside our harbour. Totally autonomous shipping at sea still seems a very long way off, but boats operating on quiet inland waterway routes, controlled remotely, appear to be achievable within the not too distant future.


This would mean, for example, that ships could operate at night and hence be capable of carrying out many more tasks.

Autonomous drones


Drones are becoming increasingly common in our society. And the technology keeps evolving.


To make the port area even safer, more efficient and smarter, we want to build a network of autonomous drones together with our community.


This network is only possible through co-creation. To reap all the benefits of this technology, close cooperation between the port community, technology developers and authorities is a must. That is why we are opening up the port area as a living lab where innovative initiatives, ideas and projects can be safely demonstrated in a genuine industrial environment.


We invite everyone to help us create the port of the future!


The port area offers a great many innovative opportunities. Start-ups, scale-ups, but also academics and other tech-companies must be able to show their technologies to the world in this living lab. Together, we will push our boundaries and become the top-of-mind port in the world."
Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital Innovation, Officer Antwerp Port Authority

Echodrone: the autonomous depth-sounding boatt


To be able to guarantee safe passage for shipping, soundings on water depths need to be carried out regularly. These soundings provide a view of the current water depth at moorings and enable maintenance dredging work to be scheduled if necessary. Based on the need to supplement the work done by the ‘Echo’, the depth-sounding boat currently in service, a unique technology has been developed in conjunction with dotOcean to create an innovative autonomous depth-sounding vessel: the Echodrone.


The Echodrone is the prototype of an autonomous depth-sounding craft and has been developed to carry out depth measurements in those hard-to-reach areas in the port zone. The Echodrone operates in addition to the Echo, the manned depth-sounding boat.


This technology is based on collecting detailed information in the cloud. Information that is made available online by a whole range of devices in the port and which is selected by algorithms in the cloud and then translated and summarised into usable information. The Echodrone is designed to navigate entirely on this verified data, whereas the previous generation of autonomous vessels operated using their own sensors. This makes the Echodrone one of the first of a totally new generation of robots.”

Koen Geirnaert, co-founder of dotOcean


Tuimelaar: unmanned sounding boat


The 'Tuimelaar (Tumbler)' is a multifunctional vessel of the Port Authority equipped with the necessary equipment, demonstrated and tested. In addition, the vessel can sail unmanned. The technology offers new opportunities to inland navigation and can make an important contribution to the modal shift in the future.


The Tuimelaar/Tumbler can also be used as a test vessel. Seafar, a company developing technology for the remote operation of automatic inland vessels, is already using it for this purpose.