Trial with sulphur-sniffing drones above cargo ships continues

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), in collaboration with the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, will deploy sulfur-sniffing drones over the Baltic Sea. The goal is to catch cargo ships with too high a sulfur content in the fuel. The collaboration is a follow-up to a pilot project that started in Denmark in 2019.

Analyzing exhaust gases

The idea is that drones equipped with sulfur sensors will fly to passing cargo ships and then analyze the flue gases. Shipping companies that operate ships that emit too much sulfur can face fines of more than $10,000. The aim is to reduce the contribution of ship traffic to global warming. Sulfur reduction is an important part of this.

The Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 drones will take off from an army base on the islet of Fehmarn, near a major shipping route between Germany and Denmark. Each drone can be used twice a day for a flight of up to 6 hours, covering distances of up to 100 km. The flights are operated by operator Nordic Unmanned.

After arriving at a passing ship, the drone flies above and behind the chimney for a while. Measured values ​​are transmitted in real time to the EMSA control room. In the previous project, it turned out that about 10% of the ships were eligible for a follow-up check of the sulfur content in the fuel after arrival in the port.

Depth measurements

In addition to a sulfur sensor, the drones also have a multispectral camera. This allows bathymetric analyses, in other words to perform depth measurements. It will be investigated whether the drones can also be used to make accurate depth maps of shallow waters and 3D models of coastal strips.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch (available in Dutch and English). Wiebe is an experienced drone pilot (EASA Specific category certified) and has published a number of bestselling books about drone photography and cinematography.

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