Terra Drone’s Unifly UTM System Enables Autonomous Petrochemical Transport at Port of Antwerp

Unifly, a subsidiary of Terra Drone Corporation, has successfully enabled the first-ever autonomous drone transport of petrochemical samples at the Port of Antwerp. This achievement, part of the SAMPLIFLY project, represents a collaboration between ADLC, SGS, and BASF, and showcases the potential for integrating drone technology into industrial operations.

Image: TerraDrone.

The SAMPLIFLY initiative stands out for meeting stringent safety and regulatory standards. ADLC has become the first European entity authorized to conduct drone transport of petrochemical samples within a port’s non-segregated controlled airspace. Traditionally reliant on road transport, the introduction of drone logistics has dramatically improved transport times by up to six times, reduced CO2 emissions by 80%, and significantly enhanced operational efficiency for BASF Antwerp and SGS.

Unifly’s advanced NextGen UTM system played a critical role in this project by ensuring safe drone operations through real-time monitoring, automated flight planning, and enhanced situational awareness, enabling seamless Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. The system also facilitated the necessary flight authorizations, with the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority’s use of Unifly’s UTM system being instrumental in managing these approvals.

Since its operational launch in mid-March 2021, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges DronePortal has processed over 5,700 flight authorizations, establishing a robust framework for U-space operations. The implementation of Unifly’s UTM system in collaboration with SkeyDrone has significantly contributed to the evolving drone industry landscape.

Marc Kegelaers, Co-founder of ADLC, highlighted the importance of this collaboration: “Leveraging the advanced UTM system of Unifly has been instrumental in making the SAMPLIFLY project a reality. This partnership has enabled us to meet stringent safety requirements and pioneer the use of autonomous drones for petrochemical sample transport, setting a new benchmark for efficiency and innovation in the logistics industry.”

Andres Van Swalm, CEO of Unifly, echoed this sentiment, stating, “We are thrilled to see our UTM system enabling such a transformative project. The successful implementation of BVLOS operations for petrochemical sample transport demonstrates the immense potential of autonomous drones in industrial applications. This project sets a new standard for safety and efficiency in drone logistics.”