Connected & automated shipping

24 November 2019

From vessel platooning to remotely controlled ships and infrastructure, inland waterway transport is automating. Test areas emerge allowing operational test cases to develop best practices and identify gaps in law and regulations.  The aim is to prepare a suitable, safe and attractive environment for the development and deployment of smart shipping.

In the NOVIMAR project, 22 partners from nine countries team up around vessel platooning. The vessel train transport concept basically consists of one crewed leader vessel. This leader vessel is followed by a number of lowly manned or unmanned follower vessels from different class sizes. The follower vessels keep their own manoeuvring capabilities but will mostly be led by the crewed leader vessel. This enables individual vessels to sail with less personnel, if any at all.

AUTOSHIP – Autonomous Shipping Initiative for European Waters – aims at speeding-up the transition towards a next generation of autonomous ships in EU. The project will build and operate 2 different autonomous vessels, demonstrating their operative capabilities in Short Sea Shipping and Inland Water Ways scenarios, with a focus on goods mobility. The use cases developed within the project will optimize efforts and investments in order to advance common standards and enabling operations in a shorter timeframe than expected: this will allow commercial applications of the technology behind the next generation of autonomous ships by the end of 2023.

In Flanders, unmanned shipping already takes place. An automated shipping test phase was launched in West-Flanders. The unmanned Watertruck+ barge transports sand from Diksmuide to Oostende on the Ieper-IJzer and Plassendale-Nieuwpoort canals.

Connected & automated shipping