in Aerospace / Security

Drones set to enhance competitiveness of UK ports in post-pandemic Brexit Britain

Posted 15 October 2020 · Add Comment

Ports have been revealed as one of the key UK industry sectors set to reap huge benefits from the use of drones as development of the technology accelerates, enhancing the economic impact of an industry sector that already contributes £7.6 billion a year to the UK economy.



Above: Robert Garbett, Chairman of the Drone Delivery Group.
Courtesy Drone Delivery Group

 
Ports have been revealed as one of the key UK industry sectors set to reap huge benefits from the use of drones as development of the technology accelerates, enhancing the economic impact of an industry sector that already contributes £7.6 billion a year to the UK economy.  
 
Drone technology presents a vital tool with the potential to enable UK ports to improve their global competitive advantage through a combination of improved safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
 
Once host to some of the largest and busiest ports in the world, the UK ports industry remains hugely significant to the economy, handling 95% of UK international trade by volume amounting to over 500m tonnes of freight a year. The industry directly employs 101,000 people, contributes £1.5 billion a year in taxes and boasts labour productivity at 46% above the national average.  Ports face both a challenge and an opportunity to carve out their future role in supporting the UK economy in a post-Brexit world, with the vital importance of the country’s global trading capacity and infrastructure brought into sharp relief by the rapidly approaching end of the Brexit transition period.       
 
In addition to recent advances in autonomous short sea shipping and inland waterway operations, potential key roles for drones include connecting multimodal transport links (air, water and land); mapping and surveying; environmental monitoring, search and rescue, maintaining and repairing both shipping and port assets, and security/customs enforcement.   
 
This summer saw the launch of a landmark White Paper by the Chelmsford based Drone Delivery Group, the UK drone industry initiative, which brings together the first independent collaborative grouping of companies and organisations (over 300) involved in all aspects of the drone industry. The White Paper, ‘The commercialisation of the UK air drone industry’ calls for the development of new testing grounds to deliver public safety, advance the industry, support the ambition of UK Plc to become a global leader in drone technology and to provide a solution to the sector’s biggest challenge in making commercial drone flights an exciting reality in UK skies.  One of the key testing ground projects currently being developed seeks to explore the potential impact of drone use on port operations and the role of drones in coastal waters, including through widening and enhancing access to the port by goods traffic, by inland waterways where possible, as well as air, land and sea.

 

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