From the European program ‘Interreg 2 zeeën’, € 1.85 million was granted to projects stimulating the use of unmanned aircraft at sea. Thanks to this grant, an international project on unmanned aircraft, called “3i” got started. Twelve organizations from the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom invest another € 1.85 million. Together they will design a prototype specially suited for this application at the Business Park Aviolanda, located next to the Air Force base Woensdrecht. The project started with a kick-off meeting there on 21th June and will last till September 2014.
Project name 3i
The project name is ‘3i’, an acronym for Integrated Coastal Zone Management via Increased situational awareness throughInnovations on Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
In the Channel and the south North Sea, organizations such as the police, harbor services and environmental organizations are interested in monitoring the movements and activities of ships. At present this monitoring is done by means of manned aircraft, radars and automatic buoys. Deploying unmanned aircraft for this purpose means a new way of monitoring that is also more cost effective.
The 3i project will result in a prototype of an unmanned aircraft and contribute as such to the creation of knowledge and the application of unmanned aircraft and the use for maritime safety. The results of the 3i project will be freely accessible in order to further support the development of the technology of unmanned aircraft and to supply a commercial and competitive advantage to the different European technical organizations.
On the 3i project Dutch, British and French knowledge organizations and possible customers such as universities, schools, companies, the police, harbor services, the fire brigade and governments take part.
For example, the University of Southampton builds the frame and the drive of the prototype. The Technical University Delft is responsible for the automatic pilot and the French University Telecom Bretagne will take care of the user environment.
The other partners all support these activities. End-users, such as the police and harbor services, lay down the specifications for the unmanned aircraft based on a number of operational scenarios.
Planning 3i project
The 3i project was designed in three phases. First there is a research and development phase. One of the objectives of this phase is to develop the specifications of the prototype. Next follows the construction and test phase. In accordance with the planning, a prototype should be ready by September 2013. The last phase then is the demonstration phase during which the developed unmanned aircraft will give a number of demonstrations in the harbors of Rotterdam and Dover and above the coasts of Rotterdam and Brittany. The project will end in September 2014.