18 September 2019 - Published by Stig Marthinsen

On 2 September 2019, Nederland Maritime Land (Maritime by Holland) the PERISCOPE project organized a trans-national drone workshop “Drone Applications Maritime Industry” at Rotterdam Offshore Group in Rotterdam, where speakers from various European countries explained what is happening in the market, analysed the present challenges with the public and tried to find a way forward to expand the market.

Moderator Arjen Uytendaal: “The intention of this workshop was to bring the world of the maritime professionals and the drone professionals together, make a gap analyse and investigate if there is a need to form a joint industry projects with possible financing of European funding. We see a lot of technology in the market which is reaching its maturity, and slowly embraced the market. Usage of drones for drones for inspections is increasing and even certified by all Classification Societies, but it goes slow and in other areas even slower. This implies that there is still room for further development, we need an acceleration”.

As a kick-off David Knukkel, CEO of RIMS BV, gave insight into what is happening in the drone industry at this moment. The technology is getting mature, and the market is settling. David Knukkel  “The hype of drones is over and the time that everyone could buy a drone and offer inspections is on its return. This scared the industry as many had no experience with the risks belonging to the industry and many things went wrong. Fortunately, the professionals remain, those who have their management systems, licenses to operate and Class Certification in place and know the risks of the Maritime domain to ensure the increasing demands of quality of inspection results.

Speakers, well recognized in the areas of Inspection (RIMS), Data handling (Dutch Drone Company), Research (U-Flyte) and regulations (License to Fly and Classifications Rules) gave their view on the challenges and future requirements in their specific domain.

One such domain is certification; two areas of certification are important in the maritime industry. The first is related to the license to fly, in Europe applicable for outdoor flights. Ingo Kroon, CEO of Airpass explained which new regulations will come into force soon. Ingo: “A maritime offshore drone platform is a must have. The next logical step is to continue the workshop. The will is there.”

Philip Schrijver, Director Marine Bureau Veritas, elaborates on the usage of drones during Class surveys. He explains that certification of Class stands for a quality system of standards to ensure safe and efficient inspections.

RIMS, the first inspection company certified by nine of the largest classification Societies, is allowed to support surveyors during class surveys of ships constructions and mobile offshore units with remote inspection technology (drones). David, CEO, explained their services, pros and cons and future requirements/developments.

Dutch Drone Company, an inspection company, but also focussing on the data processing, explained what can be done with the data when the inspection is completed, like 3D modelling and image recognition. Feye de Zwart: “This meeting showed there is a huge opportunity for drones to the Maritime sector, challenge now is to bring the stakeholders together and to explain the end users how drones and the data can bring added value and safety in their daily business.”

U-flight, a company who is established to tackle all bottlenecks to impede further development of drone technology and services, explained about the challenges that many operators experience. Dr. Stephanie Keogh (Maywood University) : “We have big challenges in the area of operations and performance like with Drone Airspace (UTM; Unmanned Traffic Management) with 3D Modelling, Risk Analysis, Conflict Handling, Traffic Optimisation, Registration, Cybersecurity and also Privacy.”

During the second part of the session all participants actively joined the group discussion, analysing the gaps which still exist in the sector and which actions should be required to remove the barriers. A certain priority list is built. The mixed group of maritime and drone professionals was enthusiastic about the new contacts and looking forward to work together. The group will be involved on the preparations of possible joint industry projects. Based on this input Periscope will investigate whether these projects could be partly financed by an Interreg fund of the European Union.

This workshop is not the end, but just the start of an interesting process to speed up the development of the right technology. And to give the usage of drone and software technology a boost to ensure that the Maritime Industry becomes safer and more cost efficient.

Picture © Nederland Maritiem Land