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Drone transport is and remains of the most important applications due to its logistical potential, cost efficiency, environmental friendliness and deployability for high-risk tasks. With Vertiports, West Flanders is being prepared for the evolution towards unmanned air traffic. Also,the automation of processes (including inspection, monitoring, detection, counting, targeted treatment with active sprays, etc.) by drones is a solution to the shortage of logistics personnel in the labor market.

The project comprises three main pillars:

  1. the study/facilitation of logistical airlifts for unmanned air traffic, by investigating and setting up an inspection/cargo airlift from Ostend-Bruges International Airport to an offshore wind farm with associated test flights, as well as investigating the potential of airlift(s) from Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport.
  2. establishing the necessary compliance protocols for air drones, backed by associated test and research infrastructure to ensure safe deployment in offshore conditions.
  3. further developing and maintaining the "Drone Port West Flanders," the provincial drone community operation around unmanned aerial, water and land systems. The term "vertiport" is used for the place where such flying platforms take off and land, hence the name of this project.

Howest provides support for the development of AR/VR training software, as well as software and hardware development for controlling offshore drone missions with attention to the (cyber) security of drones in the vicinity of sensitive infrastructure and people.