Antoon van CoillieAntoon is a director of Zulu Associates, an Anglo Belgian shipping company. Before joining the inland waterway and marine industries, he acquired a wide experience in different capacities within the construction and financial industries. He founded Blue Line Logistics in 2011, conceiving and developing the Pallet Shuttle Barge (aka ZULU) concept for moving palletized goods on inland waterways. In 2016, motivated by the climate crisis, he initiated the development of zero-emission dry bulk and container vessels for inland and short-sea freight using autonomous operation as an economic enabler of alternative propulsion systems. In 2020 he sold his stake in Blue Line Logistics to concentrate exclusively on zero-emission innovations. Zulu Associates is also a partner in the AUTOSHIP consortium, which will operate a demonstrator of autonomous operation on inland waterways in 2022. It also provides the platform for the autonomous mooring of inland barges using magnetic pads in the Hull2Hull consortium.
Using autonomy to achieve zero emission and efficient maritime logistic chains
The impact of autonomous operation of vessels on short sea and inland waterway routes is not limited to the navigational perspective. It has ramifications on the size of the vessels, the propulsion systems and related energy carriers, the needed infrastructure and ultimately will influence the design of the logistic chains in a disruptively and far reaching way. This may give the response needed for achieving economically competitive low and zero emission vessels. Other benefits will include better and safer jobs, reversing the crew shortage issue, increase safety, make inland waterway transport more climate resilient.