Martek Marine Gets Euro Drone Contract

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has included the UK-based Martek Marine in a framework contract for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) services in the maritime environment.

As informed, the company has been awarded one of several framework contracts launched by EMSA which deal with RPAS services.

The contract won by Martek is specifically for ship engine emission monitoring by RPAS. This new requirement requires an RPAS (drone) to sample gases from a vessel’s emissions plume by using a payload of electro optical, infra-red imaging, gas emission and AIS detection sensors.

Due to the recent entering into force of the new limits for sulfur content of marine fuels since January 1, 2015, Directive (EU) 2015/253 of February 16, 2015, laying down the rules concerning the sampling and reporting under Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels, SOx emissions from ships need to be monitored.

The enforcement by member states under Directive 1999/32/EC will require monitoring of the emissions and information exchange between the responsible administrations.

To improve environmental surveillance capabilities, data from new sensors, in particular from RPAS, are to be incorporated to provide information to member states.

EMSA will organize and provide, as an institutional service provider, pilot RPAS service operations in support of member states focusing on marine pollution detection & monitoring and emissions monitoring. However, this technology has a multi purpose character and could in an emergency be used for other purposes, if necessary or requested by member states, the European Commission and other EU agencies.

The RPAS can be flown over 50 km from the ground station, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), with an instant and continuous video being streamed back to the ground station and member states. An on board gas analyzer draws samples of air and monitors SOx, NOx and CO2 levels to determine possible breaches in EU law on the sulfur content of a ship’s fuel.

Development is also underway to incorporate satellite command & control and payload data streaming, so the RPAS can operate in what is known as beyond radio line of sight (BRLOS) over 100 km away. In order to operate effectively in the harsh maritime environment, the RPAS can withstand storm force wind and heavy rain, snow and salt spray.

“We’ve worked hard and invested big to pioneer the maritime application of drone technology in the last 3 years. This EMSA contract allows us to combine our original ‘world first’ of ship SO2/CO2/NOx monitoring, with our unique drone platform to deliver another world first. We’re determined to ‘change the world using drones’ and this is the first of many applications which we intend to pioneer,” Paul Luen, Martek Group’s CEO, commented.

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