Drones... and Proximus will soon conquer the skies

"Drones mean innovation, new services for citizens, new business models and economic growth"
- Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for transport

A world of new possibilities

Over the past weeks, within the framework of the European regulation for drones the SAFIR consortium (made up of Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly) trialed a number of demo flights (SAFIR stands for "Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment").

The aim of this European program is to manage the proliferation of drones properly once the new European law enters into force in the middle of next year.

Trial runs under SAFIR's wing

After an initial trial run above the DronePort Campus in Sint-Truiden (5 September) it was Antwerp's turn on the 25th of September. There, the SAFIR partners flew their drones above the city and the port.

On September 27th, there was also another demo flight above the Port of Antwerp.

A particularly interesting flight planned in the next few weeks will be the one between the University Hospital of Antwerp and the Sint-Augustinus hospital. In the meantime, the University Hospital of Ghent is working on an ambulance drone and is thinking of transporting organs. Because "there are no traffic jams in the air!". 

Drones are a key element for the development of a digital nervous system across the Port of Antwerp. A live feed of the various port activities through a network of autonomous drones is a rewarding tool for the entire port community.

Internet of flying things

A range of future drone missions requires the necessary 5G communication of these “flying things” in the air.

To enable drones to fly everywhere safely, the air space must be managed just like for aircraft, and data about their location and flight paths must be exchanged. To that end, ways to improve the 4G network are being looked at in the short term. It is forecast that the number of drones will increase sharply, as will the demand for more bandwidth and extreme low latency. Only 5G offers an answer to these technological challenges.

These tests are of great importance for Proximus. We possess crucial information about the performance of our mobile networks and can prepare for the advent of autonomous flying drones. This is an important step in achieving a sustainable ecosystem, in which Proximus wants to play a major role as a digital services provider.


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