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Port of Antwerp to work on 3D sonar sensors for unmanned shipping

Port of Antwerp to work on 3D sonar sensors for unmanned shipping

The University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and the Port of Antwerp have jointly tested groundbreaking 3D sonar sensors for autonomous inland shipping technologies.

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Prof Jan Steckel designs sophisticated sensor systems that can withstand harsh environments at CoSys-Lab, a research group at UAntwerp's Faculty of Applied Engineering.

However, in such conditions, Sonar sensors stay fully working. At a low cost, they can provide a reliable image of the ship's surroundings.

“In order to achieve fully autonomous navigation, constant monitoring of the ship’s surroundings is absolutely crucial. Cameras can be used, of course, but when visibility is poor – due to dust, water sprays, mud, smoke or fog – they don’t work properly,” stated Steckel.

The researchers created a 3D sonar sensor with 32 sophisticated waterproof microphones for the Port of Antwerp project. The project, which stands for "embedded Real Time Imaging Sonar," is named eRTIS.

As part of the Smart Docking Innovation Challenge, the Port of Antwerp has given the green light to Prof. Jan Steckel's 3D Sonar and Lidar for Vessel Monitoring project in 2021. There will be a follow-up project.

“Unmanned vessels can lead to substantial cost savings, as well as provide an answer to our increasing traffic congestion problems and the rising costs of road transport. Smart vessels definitely have a part to play in the multimodal transport approach that the Port of Antwerp wants to help develop further,” said Svetlana Samsonova, liaison officer.

Maritime Business World 

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