Port of Antwerp-Bruges is looking for ways to transport more goods in a sustainable way. To achieve this modal shift, we are jointly working on solutions such as autonomous inland navigation craft. Digital applications, such as smart asphalt and an inland navigation application, monitor and improve the traffic situation in and around the port.

Autonomous vehicles

Innovation is a strong driver for providing solutions to mobility problems: sharing systems such as scooters, electric bikes, etc., have proven their impact for passenger transport. For shipping traffic, remotely controlled inland vessels or small autonomous boats can have a positive effect on mobility at the port. 

Automated shipping is the future of inland navigation. The demand for inland navigation is growing, especially in the context of the modal shift. An unmanned vessel leads to significant cost reductions and provides a solution to growing mobility problems.

Autonomous inland navigation vessels

For example, Seafar has developed a technology for the remote control of automatic inland navigation vessels. It is already being used on the estuary container ship 'Deseo' which sails semi-autonomously between Zeebrugge and Antwerp. Research by the University of Antwerp and Port of Antwerp-Bruges has shown that 3D sonar sensors, inspired by bats, can help with this technology.

Echodrone

The Echodrone is an autonomous sounding vessel capable of performing a variety of depth measurements to guarantee safe passage for shipping. 

 

It had a major upgrade at the end of 2021 that included the installation of innovative technology. The Echodrone 2.0 is not only more robust, it is also able to withstand different weather conditions and carries a variety of measuring equipment on board, including a sonar radar.

Digital platforms

A smart port is a port that knows what is going on at any moment, and how shipping is progressing. Via smart and digital platforms, we ensure that relevant data is available to everyone.

Rivers and canals provide a natural highway for transport. Innovation must be accelerated to exploit the full potential of our inland navigation network. This is possible with unmanned navigation using automated ships.

Erwin VerstraelenChief Digital & Innovation officer, Port of Antwerp-Bruges

Port Information Systems APICS and ZEDIS

The Antwerp Port Information and Control System (APICS) manages the monitoring of shipping traffic to, from and within Antwerp, tug operations, lock planning, berth management, cargo handling, registration of dangerous goods and so much more. This data is available to all port users and helps them to make the right decisions. Zedis does the same job in Zeebrugge.

Smart asphalt

Together with the University of Antwerp, we have developed new types of asphalt that can withstand the special conditions in a port environment and extend the life of heavily-used roads. These asphalt types are part of a larger study to develop sustainable road infrastructure for a port environment.

 

The aim is to eventually cover all new roads in the port with the new asphalt types.

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