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26 feb, 2024

ADLC is benchmarking the application of drones in logistics

In a recent showcase at The Beacon in Antwerp on February 26, 2024, the Antwerp Drone Logistics Consortium (ADLC) highlighted the evolving role of drones in logistics. The event featured a panel discussion with prominent figures from EUROCONTROL, the Port of Antwerp, and ADLC, offering valuable insights into the current trends and future potential of drone technology in the logistics sector.

Urbanization and drone industry trends

Munish Khurana, a representative from EUROCONTROL, emphasized the rapid urbanization expected globally, with 60% of the world population living in urban areas by 2030. This urban shift is mirrored in the drone industry, with European trends following global patterns. Increasingly applied in sectors such as energy, data collection, and construction, drones are now expanding into transportation.

The challenge of intermodal transportation systems

As cities transform into intermodal transportation hubs, the complexity of traffic systems, both on the ground and in the air, increases dramatically. Khurana highlighted the necessity for robust data exchange systems to manage this complexity efficiently and safely.

The current safety and communication systems designed for manned aviation are inadequate for the emerging landscape of unmanned and mixed aviation. This gap calls for innovation and adaptation to ensure safety and efficiency in this new era.

EU Drone Strategy 2.0 and Uspace

The EU Drone Strategy 2.0, launched in 2022, plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges. A key component is Uspace, an automated traffic management system designed to handle thousands of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The political will to realize this vision is strong, especially with Belgium’s presidency in the European Council.

Port of Antwerp and ADLC use case with SGS

Bob Spanoghe from the Port of Antwerp and Marc Kegelaers from ADLC discussed their pioneering project with SGS in the Port of Antwerp. This project involved using drones to unload samples from chemical ships over a 12km distance Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), even at night. The results were impressive, showing an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions and delivery time compared to traditional methods.

Safety and investment in Infrastructure

The focus has shifted beyond just the technology; safety has now become a critical aspect. ADLC is setting new benchmarks in this regard. Increased investment in both digital and physical infrastructure over the past 1.5 years is paving the way for smaller drones to enter the market within two years, a period necessary for Uspace cases to scale up significantly.

In conclusion, ADLC is not only pioneering in testing and applying drone technology in logistics but is also actively looking forward to conducting future test flights. This progressive approach places ADLC at the forefront of a logistics revolution, demonstrating the immense potential of drone technology in transforming the industry.

Legal framework and future test flights

In collaboration with the BCAA, ADLC has been instrumental in establishing a legal framework for drone operations, setting a precedent and facilitating the scaling towards Uspace integration. In a forward-looking move, discussions are underway with DronePort to conduct future test flights, aiming to further refine and develop their system. This proactive approach underscores ADLC’s commitment to advancing drone logistics, setting a new standard in the industry.

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