AquaSmartXL: an extra pair of smart eyes on the water

Source: Havenbedrijf Rotterdam

The port of Rotterdam is constantly monitored and inspected in connection with maintenance and safety. In situations where existing methods are impractical, dangerous or inefficient, AquaSmartXL offers a pair of remote-controlled smart eyes, in the form of the AquaDrone. This small, unmanned vessel transmits visual data to the shore in real time, offering a flexible solution for surveillance and inspection from the water surface.

AquaSmartXL is one of twelve startups that participated in the startup acceleration program of PortXL. During ‘Shakedown’ at June 30, they and other participants will show what 100 days of business-building with the help of mentors, partners and experts, has brought them.

Logical step forward

“The use of ‘extra eyes’ connects seamlessly with the innovative character of the port of Rotterdam, where dozens of modern technologies are incorporated in business operations every day,” says AquaSmartXL spokesperson Anita Felter. “In an area where business processes are being automated at a rapid pace, we believe that remote monitoring and inspections form a logical step forward.”

IT platform

The introduction of the AquaDrone allows inspectors to execute a major share of their work from the quay. This eliminates the need to spend funds on, for example, additional manned vessels or the preliminary closing off of areas that need to be inspected. It means that you are only required to construct expensive jetties along those sections of the pier where repairs are actually necessary (rather than the entire pier). And it means that the unmanned drones can be used for continuous surveillance that supplements the work of the existing, manned patrol boats.

Felter: “The remote-controlled AquaDrone with on-board camera systems is supplied via external parties. As a start-up, we focus entirely on integrating the technology and developing the IT platform. This enables our clients to review the desired data as recorded by the AquaSmartXL system. Right now, our core activities at AquaSmartXL are visual inspections and surveillance on the water, but we expect to be able to add a number of other measuring instruments in the future. Examples include devices that allow the user to measure noise nuisance or air pollution.”


The only AquaSmartXL drone produced so far is a prototype, funded by the start-up itself. The first pilot projects using this version are already underway. Felter: “We recently spoke with an inspection firm that operates all over the world. It will be testing our concept during its concrete inspection rounds of relatively inaccessible locations on and around structures in the water. Hopefully, in the next phase we will be able to roll out a pilot project that is partly possible thanks to joint financing. To this end, we are seeking out parties that need an extra pair of ‘smart eyes’ on the water.”

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