Amsterdam Pilots Sailing Drone for Depth Inspection of Ships

Port of AmsterdamImage Courtesy: Port of Amsterdam

The Telemetron, a sailing drone that inspects the depth of marginal ships at the locks of IJmuiden, shows that drones can do more than just fly.

The pilot, a collaboration between Port of Amsterdam, the Dutch Customs Office, Seabed and Maritime Robotics, has an aim to gain experience in new technologies in nautical processes.

The development has been set up with a view to gain more information and experience regarding sailing drone technology. Together with autonomously sailing vessels, the move would have a great impact on future nautical processes.

Conducted during the week of July 8, the experiment took the first steps in examining the impact, the potential of the technology for Port of Amsterdam and the steps Port of Amsterdam has to take to prepare for a more structural deployment in the future.

For the pilot it was decided to examine the inspection process of marginal ships. Marginal ships are vessels of which the depth is such that they require an exemption for passing through the Noordersluis lock.

The inspection process, which involves a salt measurement at Forteiland and reading out six marks on the hull of the ship, is well-suited for testing drone technology, the port explained.

During the week, the drone was deployed in various sub-scenarios for the depth inspection process simulation. This calculates the depth which, in combination with the salt level, determines whether the ship can pass through the Noordersluis lock or has to be made lighter.

During the test phase the Telemetron was ‘manned’ whilst the sailing drone was able to sail (semi-)autonomously.

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