Wartsila to develop zero-emission autonomous inland navigation barge
As part of an EU-funded project focused on improving the sustainability and logistics of port operations, Wartsila, as the project’s main industrial partner, is focusing on issues of improving logistics ports in order to reduce bottlenecks that contribute to increased emissions in ports. Wartsila is focusing on the union of several technologies to develop an autonomous and zero emission barge for inland navigation which will be presented at the port of Rotterdam.
The research project, nicknamed MAGPIE (sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs) is led by the Rotterdam Port Authority in partnership with other European ports, 10 research institutes and more than 30 companies in the Netherlands, in Germany, France, Portugal, and Denmark. The program focuses on sustainable and smart port logistics aimed at improving the flow of goods while achieving the goal of carbon-free operations by 2050. The field of research includes a series of digitization and automation projects aimed at encouraging businesses to improve. the sustainability of their logistics.
As part of the overall initiative, the Wartsila sub-project is to demonstrate an autonomous and commercially viable inter-terminal container shuttle to address an emerging capacity bottleneck for internal container transport.
“We believe that ground transportation modes will not be able to absorb the emerging capacity bottleneck for internal container movement,” says Hendrik Busshoff, Business Development Engineer at Wartsila Travel. “We are therefore going to propose a concept of an autonomous electronic barge which can considerably improve the efficiency of the port of Rotterdam thanks to the automated transshipment of sea freight. Our ambition is to see these container shuttles introduced into an intelligent logistics network in the coming years.
Among the technologies that will be incorporated into the design of the barge is sensor technology associated with the navigation systems for safe and automated movement of the vessel. Wartsila’s SmartMove technology has been designed to handle high traffic volumes safely for both complex waterways and busy ports. The technology has already been tested in several contexts, notably in Singapore.
To achieve the project’s goals, Wartsila says the barge must not only be smart, but also emissions-free. They will build on their experience from a separate project that developed a new battery system that has already been tested for inland operations from Rotterdam. The new barge will use electric propulsion which will be activated using an electric drive train and an interchangeable battery container solution, which is charged using renewable energy.
“At Wärtsilä, we affirm that a self-reliance strategy is the key to a zero emission ambition,” says Teus Van Beek, Managing Director, Ecosystem Innovation, Wärtsilä Marine Systems. “To complete the configuration of electronic navigation, we are part of a consortium that has developed a concept based on the use of replaceable battery containers, called ZESPacks (Zero Emission Services). A network of open access charging points will be set up to exchange battery containers for fully charged replacements, thus reducing waiting time to a minimum. The first of these battery containers will be installed this summer. “
The European Commission awards nearly $ 30 million in research grants for projects. The research is expected to last five years and examine a wide range of initiatives under the Green Port project.