Port of Antwerp successfully tests 3D sonar technology for inland shipping

Port of Antwerp successfully tests 3D sonar technology for inland shipping

The Port of Antwerp has claimed 3D sonar sensors can help automated inland shipping after a series of successful tests at the end of 2020.

The Port said it collaborated with the University of Antwerp to research the technology and test it in a real-life situation, on board the Tuimerlaar, a ship owned by the Port.

This test involved a 3D sonar sensor with 32 waterproof, advanced microphones, developed alongside the University of Antwerp.

The sensors collated and passed on real-time information, which created images of the environment based on sound.

An unmanned ship leads to serious cost reductions and offers an answer to the increasing mobility problems and rising prices of road transport, the Por said.

Prof. Jan Steckel, University of Antwerp, said, “If you want to make autonomous sailing possible, continuous monitoring of the ship’s environment is of the utmost importance,”

“You can do that with cameras, but in difficult circumstances – such as dust, water, mud, smoke or fog – they don’t work well.”

Within CoSys-Lab, a research group of the Faculty of Applied Engineering Sciences of UAntwerp, he develops advanced sensor systems for difficult conditions. 

Svetlana Samsonova, University of Antwerp, said the level of innovation could help the maritime industry to attract new talent, which will be vital as it looks to overcome present and future challenges.

“Inland shipping is unfortunately not a fancy labor sector,” Samsonova said.

“Attracting young talent is not easy. That is why we are very committed to innovation. Technology must strengthen the competitiveness of the inland shipping sector.”

More than 42% of all goods in the port of Antwerp were brought in or out by inland vessels in 2019. In a statement, the Port of Antwerp said inland shipping and technological innovation vital is crucial to its competitiveness.  

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