Autonomous inland shipping to be deployed in the Port of Antwerp

Good news about our ports

14 January 2021

The Port of Antwerp is looking into innovative ways to develop autonomous shipping in order to make inland shipping more attractive and competitive. Inland shipping is key to the accessibility of the port and the city of Antwerp. In the past year, more than 40% of all goods entered or left the port via inland waterways.

© Port of Antwerp

The port is working together with UAntwerp, Antwerp’s university, on innovative 3D sonar sensors, inspired by bats and their way they move around, to achieve unmanned inland navigation. The Port of Antwerp decided to focus its attention on innovation to attract new talents to work on autonomous inland shipping, a very promising field that would allow the port to save costs while reducing traffic congestion.

The sonar sensors UAntwerp is testing would enable constant monitoring of a ship’s surroundings, even in harsh weather, as opposed to cameras, which is crucial to autonomous navigation. This project is called eRTIS ('embedded Real Time Imaging Sonar') and relies on the use of 32 waterproof microphones emitting sound waves and transmitting information in real time. A successful test of the device was carried out at the end of 2020 on the Tuimelaar, one of the Port’s test vessels.

You can find more information on the Port's website and here.

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