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Freeport of Riga tests underwater drone technologies

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Dry Bulk,

A small, compact drone that can be used at depths of up to 150 m is able to collect accurate data on the technical condition of the underwater infrastructure and automatically generate its analysis reports. More and more processes that previously could be undertaken only by humans now can be performed with the help of new smart devices.

The Latvian-based company DronePlan is currently testing its underwater drone remote control software that could be used in the construction, maintenance, and inspection of hydro-technical structures in the future. Last week, the underwater drone tests took place in the water area of the Freeport of Riga.

“Many of the world's ports are active players in the field of innovation ecosystem. In recent years, we have also encountered more and more new companies in the Port of Riga, which offer various newly created technologies for solving challenges related to the operation and management of the port. We are open to such co-operation. We have tested drones for environmental monitoring, technologies for remediation of historical pollution, more efficient traffic organisation, reduction of CO2 emissions as well as other innovative solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of port services, which in turn can enhance the port's competitiveness both regionally and globally”, emphasised Chairman of the Freeport of Riga Board Viesturs Zeps.

“The use of drone technologies fosters better, faster and safer performance of certain underwater works – drones can operate perfectly in winter conditions, when divers find it difficult or impossible to work, as well as to manoeuvre at hard-to-reach underwater objects and structures. Drones can also provide support function in the work of industrial divers in other areas. At present, drones can be equipped with special devices that would allow them to operate autonomously 24 hours a day,” commented Viktors Bikovs, Chairman of the DronePlan Board.

“DronePlan, which does not produce drones, specialises in developing the relevant software. Our goal is to develop software that ensures performance of certain pre-defined functions. Our long-term task is to create a digital solution that will be able not only to deliver information in the form of video images, data or three-dimensional modules, but also to analyse it,” added Bikovs.

“The port can benefit from the projects of that kind by using more efficient and modern technological solutions, while equipment manufacturers, engineers and high value-added service providers can test, adapt and improve their ideas, products and services in a real-life environment. In addition, as experience shows, the developed solutions can also become a sought-after Latvian export product, thus promoting the overall national economy,” said Viesturs Zeps.

The total length of berths in the port of Riga is more than 18 km, and some parts of hydro-technical structures are located at a depth of more than 10 m under water. In order to ensure the safety and proper technical condition of the port water area and berths, the said structures shall be inspected at least once a year. Until now, the inspection of berths in the port has always been carried out by industrial divers, but given that these services are rather expensive and often dependent on the weather, the Freeport Authority is considering and analysing other solutions for implementation of these tasks.

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