dotOcean provides control systems for autonomous navigation of vessels/vehicles and advanced situational awareness software for the maritime, civil, and security industries.
The Port of Antwerp developed the Echodrone in partnership with dotOcean, as they are marine automation specialists.
One of the Port Authority’s responsibilities is the inspection and maintenance of the maritime infrastructure, including the docks’ beds. This involves regularly measuring water depths at berths and other points to ensure safe passage and mooring for ships, as well as planning necessary maintenance dredging work. Previously, this task was carried out by the Echo sounding boat. The new vessel, Echodrone, is smaller than the Echo and fully autonomous, operating without anyone on board. This makes it more flexible and able to operate even in heavy shipping traffic where the Echo cannot go. The Echodrone utilizes cloud-based technology that heavily relies on a secure and reliable internet connection.
The technology behind the Echodrone involves gathering detailed information in the cloud. This means that data from various devices throughout the port is accessible over the internet and selectively compiled and translated into useful information by cloud algorithms. Unlike previous generations of automated vessels, the Echodrone is designed to navigate fully independently using this verified data, without relying on its own onboard sensors.
Reliable connectivity to the cloud is crucial for the Echodrone, which requires connectivity in all directions while moving around the harbor. To ensure this, the Poynting OMNI-493 (5G/LTE) and OMNI-496 (dual-band WIFI) antennas were the obvious choice. Although the Poynting Marine and Coastal antennas cover a broad frequency range, they were designed for superior pattern control across the entire range, making them the most omni-directional antennas available.
The Echodrone can measure an additional 9000 square meters of water depth in the port beyond what the Echo can measure.
With the Echodrone’s help, it will be possible to conduct other types of measurements in the future, such as environmental surveys and inspections of quay walls.