First semi-autonomous barge in Europe runs between Liège and Antwerp
A 110 m long, semi-autonomous container barge now connects the ports of Antwerp and Liège. Born from Seafar and Tercofin (Novandi Group) collaboration, it is remote-controlled from a control room in Antwerp. Due to the different legislations, the barge can only run semi-autonomously in Flanders, and the captain on board, for safety reasons, takes the wheel at the Walloon border. This fully Belgian project is a European first.
Autonomous driving isn’t only for cars of the future. Boats, and particularly canal boats, can gain from the technology. “Autonomous navigation will undoubtedly offer new prospects for canal freight transport, enabling it to become even more attractive and to promote modal shift,” notes Emile-Louis Bertrand, General Manager of the Liège autonomous port, in a press release.
The 110 m long and 11,40 m large barge isn’t going about on its own yet. Instead, it is remote-controlled from a Seafar control room in Antwerp. Currently, semi-autonomous navigation is authorized in Flanders on the Albert Canal between Antwerp and the Walloon border (Lanaye). To connect with the Liège port, the captain who’s on-board for safety reasons takes the wheel after Lanaye.
“We want to position Liège as a multimodal 4.0 platform on an international scale. The adaptation of our barges is a first step in the evolution of our equipment. Furthermore, remote-control navigation allows us to meet a real expectation of the barge industry because we realize that more and more captains want to have a life on land. In contrast, historically, the whole family was onboard all year round,” adds Vincent Brassinne, Managing Director of Novandi Group.