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.
Introducing Autonomous ships requires a holistic approach.
Autonomous or remote operations of vessels need a holistic approach in order to benefit from the possibilities offered by this technology: sustainability, shortage of seafarers and their well-being, offering alternative links in logistic chains (modal shift). Not only need the vessels and their operations to be redesigned in a holistic way: i.e. hull, maneuverability, propulsion, communication, procedures, etc., but also, the infrastructure for handling the vessels, energy loading, energy availability will need to be redesigned and reconfigured, changing also the concepts of operation. Lastly, humans intervening with these vessels and the related infrastructure will need new training and a change of mind.