In Depth: The future is unmanned – part 2

The 3i Project, acronym for Integrated Coastal Zone Management via Increased Situational Awareness through Innovations on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, is an international cooperation between the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the UK. Goal is to research the possibility of using Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs) in a maritime environment. Maritime by Holland Magazine reported about the official kick off in edition 5 and follows the 3i Project closely. Time for an update.

Since the kick-off meeting in June, the focus has been on strengthening the 3i consortium, according to Stefan van Seters, coordinator of the project at REWIN. “A very important milestone was reached in the form of a partnership agreement between all twelve partners. This agreement ensures that after the project has been completed, the partners will continue to work together on building prototypes. In addition, the unmanned vehicle will be stationed at the aviation base in Woensdrecht, the Netherlands for further research and development. A lot of contact with companies and other interested parties showed that several SMEs, multinationals and knowledge institutes intend to join the 3i Project.”

Different scenarios

Over the past few months much result has been booked. The scenarios, functional demands and potential demonstration locations for the Netherlands were determined and elaborated by the Port of Rotterdam, Police Rotterdam-Rijnmond region, the Delft University of Technology, ROC West Brabant and Digital & Media Solutions. Paul de Kruijf, innovation broker of Police Rotterdam-Rijnmond region: “The first scenario is checking out what is going on at the berths and how fast we can spot incidents. The second one is to monitor strategic locations within the harbour mouth, which are crossed by vessels. Thirdly, we want to supervise the coastal lines and last but not least we will use an UAV to monitor a simulated operation of the coast guard. For us, the main goal of participating in this project is to find out the exact requirements and costs of an UAV.” The Port of Rotterdam participates in the project to research the possibilities of replacing some physical presence by these kind of systems, according to Reinout Gunst, security coordinator at the Port of Rotterdam. The Kent Police will determine and elaborate the English maritime-based scenarios shortly.

The Delft University of Technology and the University of Southampton are responsible for translating the functional demands into a technical design. Van Seters explains: “The two universities are engaged in an intensive dialogue about this. It is has been determined that we will build not only one, but two UAV models; a small one for relatively short-distanced assignments and a big one for scenarios that require the UAV to be up in the air for a longer time. The smaller UAV model is expected to be delivered early 2013 and will be extensively tested at the aviation base in Woensdrecht with the technology that is provided by other project partners, like the automatic pilot software of the Delft University of Technology, the mobile ground station of D&MS and the user interface and data communication that are supplied by French partners.” There is a lot of dynamics going on within the 3i Project and Maritime by Holland Magazine will continue to closely follow and report on the developments.

Gail van den Hanenberg

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