Antwerp Introduces Autonomous Sounding Boat
The Port of Antwerp has introduced a fully-autonomous sounding boat, Echodrone, to supplement its other operational sounding boat, the Echo. Both carry out measurements of the water depth in the port to ensure safe passage for shipping.
The new vessel uses cloud-based technology developed in partnership between the Port Authority and dotOcean. Data from all sorts of devices throughout the port is made available over the internet and then selectively compiled and translated into useful information by algorithms in the cloud. Echodrone is designed to navigate fully independently using this verified data, unlike the previous generation of automatic vessels that had to rely on their own onboard sensors. This makes the Echodrone one of the first of a completely new generation of robots, says dotOcean co-founder Koen Geirnaert.
Echodrone is smaller than the Echo and can operate in heavy shipping traffic where the Echo would be unable to go. She is currently undergoing extensive trials. Once these have been completed she will be based in the Deurganck dock to measure the water depth of the available berths at the busiest of the tidal quays for handling containers.
The port anticipates using Echodrone for other types of measurements, such as environmental surveys and inspecting quay walls.