Call for drone test sites to boost UK ports' efficiency
14 Oct 2020
Investment in drone testing could provide a substantial boost for UK ports' efficiency and process safety, claim manufacturers of the technology.
Trade operations at UK ports could be enhanced by the use of drone technology claim spokespeople for the sector.
Robert Garbett, founder of Drone Major Group Ltd and chairman of the Drone Delivery Group said they offered the best time in history to integrate port traffic with inland and air transportation.
"Autonomous systems across all environments (surface, underwater, ground and air) have a huge role to play at ports in post-pandemic/Brexit Britain. Introducing drones at UK ports in a safe, scalable ‘test and development area’ model can bring significant benefits in terms of safety and efficiency of port operations and profitability.
He predicted that ports that led the way in adoption had the potential to become "world-leaders and an essential asset to post-Brexit Britain".
In summer the industry produced its White Paper ‘The commercialisation of the UK air drone industry’ which called for a major increase in testing opportunties for drones.
One of the key projects currently developed is exploring the potential impact of drone use on port operations and the role of drones in coastal waters, including through widening and enhancing access to the port by goods traffic, by inland waterways, plus air, land and sea.
UK ports currently handle an estimated 95% of UK international trade by volume, amounting to more than 500 million tonnes of freight annually. They directly employs 101,000 people, contribute £1.5 billion a year in taxes and boast labour productivity at 46% above the national average, says the White Paper.
Drone Major Group director of maritime strategy James Fanshawe commented: “Using drones within UK Ports and their associated waterways will make a difference to the whole business of providing a truly integrated logistics chain. Drone technologies will have a massive impact on meeting the United Nations Sustainability Development goals, notably for all forms of emission and noise [and] significantly enhance safety and security in and around ports.”