Catching The Polluter - Detection Of Oil Spills In Ports Using Drones

Contact: Steve Vanlanduit

Every year more than 100 oil spill incidents occur in the port of Antwerp alone. The cleaning of these spills is a labour intensive job that costs more than one million euros per year. At the moment oil spill incidents are detected visually by personnel of the port authority who warn the oil cleaning company. Because oil spreads these manual and incidental actions lead to large slicks that are more difficult to clean. In most cases the polluter is not in the neighbourhood anymore if the oil spill is detected. The InViLab research group of the university of Antwerp is investigating together with Port of Antwerp the possibility to use drones equipped with a camera to detect oil spills. Because many oil spill incidents occur at night, thermal cameras are used. The detection of the oil from the images is done using artificial intelligence. A test campaign at the port of Antwerp showed the method is quite successful, 89% of the oil could be detected.