Port of Amsterdam trials GPS-based UAV monitoring system

December 6, 2018  - By
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The M.A.D.S. radomes track drones at the port, so they can be identified as beneficial or a threat. (Photo: Martek)

The M.A.D.S. radomes track drones at the port, so they can be identified as beneficial or a threat. (Photo: Martek)

The Port of Amsterdam has begun a four-week trial of a drone detection system. Martek Anti-Drone Systems is providing its M.A.D.S. (Marine Anti-Drone System) to build understanding of how, where and why drones are flying over the Port of Amsterdam.

The M.A.D.S system will support the port by monitoring legal and illegal flying across its land. The system detects and identifies drones within a 5-kilometer range, providing GPS positioning of both drone and pilot together with the drone’s speed and heading.

Configurable and escalating stage alarms in real time allow the drones’ intentions to be assessed in time to decide on appropriate defense actions.

M.A.D.S. radomes are installed around the Port of Amsterdam. (Photo: Martek)

M.A.D.S. radomes are installed around the Port of Amsterdam. (Photo: Martek)

The data collected from the trial will have far-reaching influence on the future use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) across the 650-hectare port area, according to Martek.

The port has identified the potential of drones for numerous use applications across its operations and its customers’ operations. Many port customers are preparing to use drones for infrastructure inspection and measurement of environmental parameters. The trial will monitor their use.

Project manager of  innovation Joost Zuidema is overseeing the trial for the Port Authority. “This trial is an important part of our innovation strategy,” Zuidema said. “The M.A.D.S system gives us a first opportunity to get a feeling for the technology that will help us understand drone usage and make a first assessment on unwanted drone flights in a part of our port.”

Like any tool, drones are being used for good as well as malevolent purposes. There is a potential threat to transport such as container ships and major infrastructure, such as ports, around the world. Threats include:

  • privacy invasion
  • terrorism threats of explosives or gas attack
  • flyby hacking to take control of autonomous or semi-autonomous systems
  • stealing valuable data off unprotected networks or breaking into insecure networks
Infographic: Martek:

Infographic: Martek:

“As the Port Authority, we do want ensure drone flights in our port are carried out safely and responsibly, within the laws and regulations,” Zuidema said.

“The growing trend for the use of UAVs being used on ports, commercial shipping and super yachts is, as yet, not fully recognised by authorities,” said Erik Van Wilsum, Martek. “We are delighted to be working with Port of Amsterdam, who are on the cutting edge of developing technology to understand the opportunities for drone use and the potential threats and benefits they can provide for key national infrastructure.”

A report by International Data Corporation stated that it expected worldwide investment in drones to be US$12.3 billion in 2019, with drone purchase growing nearly twice as fast as the investment in robotics over the same period.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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