The recent closure of Gatwick Airport because of drones has made many look to the skies with suspicion.

However, the technology is actually being used more and more by companies and organizations to do more than disrupt – like at the Port of Montreal.

As the gold-headed cane was proudly displayed for the 180th year in a row at the Port of Montreal, so was something newer – a 3D virtual model of the entire facility. 

“With the augmented reality, you can actually take a tour of the port through a 3D rendering of the port,” explained Daniel Olivier from the Port Authority of Montreal. 

Montreal’s port is steadily growing in size and importance, so it recently committed a Montreal start up to render a digital twin and help market the port internationally. 

“We have representatives overseas – they’ve never seen Montreal, never been to Montreal, so it’s a much better way to appreciate the port in 3D than on a 2D map,” Olivier added. 

The 3D map is the work of ARA Robotics, a drone operating company, and, a Montreal start-up that can render 3D representation of just about anything.

Before this, companies had to rely on two dimensional drafts of their facilities when making plans, according to Nicolas Morency, co-founder of

This way, companies can have 3D virtual models of their spaces that can be visited without ever having to travel to them. 

“[There’s] so much more accessibility and so much more information,” Morency explained. “You don’t have to try to explain something to somebody else, you can just give access to your 3D environment and say ‘just go walk through, see for yourself.’”

Pascal Chiva-Bernard says his company’s drones are often used by mining companies and over construction sites. 

“The port is 26 km long, and in the middle of an urban area, so it’s pretty challenging to operate these aircraft,” Chiva-Bernard said. 

With new Canadian regulations coming this year to regulate and oversee the use of drones, he says the technology is already giving many industries the upper edge.