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Port of Antwerp-Bruges puts USV Echodrone for first operational sounding

Date: 12 Dec 2022 Author: Chief Editor
USV Echodrone

🎯 USV Echodrone developed and built by Port of Antwerp-Bruges was used first time in survey operations for Antwerp Euroterminal NV to estimate the volume of dredging required at the Verrebroek dock in Antwerp port. The Echodrone was used because the specific zone of measurement was only one metre deep. As a result Echodrone surveyed about 9000 m2 with significant optimization of spent resources and lowering the emissions (in compare with ordinary manned survey methods).

The Echodrone project was initiated about 4 years ago in looking for a solution to have more regular depth measurements, also in places which are more difficult to be reached with Port of Antwerp-Bruges’s manned vessel Echo. In a close collaboration with some startups and Port of Antwerp-Bruges’s nautical survey team a first proto-type was built in 2019. At that moment it was a world leading development to have a depth measurement solution based on automatic sailing. This solution has been further matured to a second generation, with full integration of the multi beam system to become a fully operational unit.

The Echodrone is now used exclusively in area of Port of Antwerp-Bruges to survey areas which were never surveyed before, because it has a draft which is much lower than our manned vessel. In the meantime a 3rd generation Echodrone is in development, where a fully autonomous path planning will be implemented to further automate to overall survey tasks. The big advantage is that this low cost solution allows further upscaling of the use of it (also in other ports) and gives the possibility to equip it with other sensors – like 360° cameras or air quality sensors – to create a real-time data platform.

⚙ USV Echodrone specifications:
🔹 Designer\Builder – Port of Antwerp-Bruges
🔹 LOA – 4,77 m
🔹 Beam – 2,33 m
🔹 Draft – 0,53 m
🔹 Operating speed – 3,9 kn
🔹 Endurance – 1 day depending on weather conditions
🔹 Power system – electric
🔹 Propulsion – 2 x Torqeedo cruise 2.0 engines, 1 x electric rudder
🔹 Connectivity – 4G
🔹 Navigation:
◾ Autonomous navigation system – dotOcean
◾ GPS for RTK positioning – SBi3 from Septentrio
🔹 Payload:
◾ Multibeam echosounder – Norbit WBMS supplied by Seabed BV
◾ Sound velocity profiler (SVP) – AML3 supplied by Seabed BV
◾ Winch for remote deploying SVP – Art Robotics

📃 Source: Piet Opstaele, Kurt Stuyts
📷 Image: Port of Antwerp-Bruges