One of the Port's responsibilities is inspection and maintenance of the maritime infrastructure, including the beds of the docks. Regular measurements of the water depths are carried out, to ensure safe passage and mooring for ships and to plan maintenance dredging work.
This has been done using the Echo sounding boat. The new vessel, 'Echodrone,' is smaller than the Echo and is fully autonomous, operating on its own without anyone on board. The ship can operate in heavy shipping traffic where the Echo would be unable to go.
The Echodrone is currently undergoing extensive trials. Once these have been completed the ship will be based in the Deurganck dock where it will be fully operational alongside the Echo to measure the water depth of the available berths at the busiest of the tidal quays for handling containers.
dotOcean co-founder Koen Geirnaert, stated:
Data from all sorts of devices throughout the port is made available over the internet and then selectively compiled and translated into useful information by algorithms in the cloud. The Echodrone is designed to navigate fully independently using this verified data, unlike the previous generation of automatic vessels that had to rely on their own onboard sensors. This makes the Echodrone one of the first of a completely new generation of robots.