€25m project to develop autonomous barge for Port of Rotterdam

An international alliance, headed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, has been awarded nearly €25 million in EU funding to implement a range of projects for smart port logistics and sustainable transport, including the development of a zero-emission autonomous barge.

“The future of port logistics belongs to intelligent connected and sustainable systems such as the autonomous e-barge system that we now set to develop together. We very much look forward to this highly promising collaboration,” said Ori Marom, Director of Smart Mobility & 5G, Port of Rotterdam.

The research project, nicknamed MAGPIE (sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs) was borne out of a collaboration between the port authorities of Rotterdam, DeltaPort (Germany), HAROPA (France) and Sines (Portugal), in partnership with 10 research institutions and over 30 companies in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal and Denmark.

The partners have initiated a series of digitalisation and automation projects aimed at encouraging businesses to improve the sustainability of their logistics.

Wärtsilä, the largest industrial partner in MAGPIE, is set to receive the biggest portion of the grant for a sub-project to demonstrate a commercially viable autonomous intra-port inter-terminal container shuttle using the company’s SmartMove Suite, which pairs sensor tech with navigation systems for automated ship movement.

“We believe that overland transport modes will not be able to absorb the emerging capacity bottleneck for internal container movement,” said Hendrik Busshoff, Business Development Engineer, Wärtsilä Voyage.

“So, we will be delivering an autonomous e-barge concept that can greatly enhance efficiency in the Port of Rotterdam through automated seaborne cargo transshipment.  Our ambition is to see these container shuttles introduced into a smart logistics network within the next few years.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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