Barges navigating canals with no captain on board. It may sound like science-fiction, but it is the reality in Flanders, thanks to Seafar. In their futuristic command centre in Antwerp, CEO Louis-Robert Cool talks about how Seafar approaches this, how unique it is, and the links with space technology.
To navigate a ship remotely, Seafar uses a highly accurate positioning system: RTK (Real-Time Kinematic). It enables them to position a ship with a 10-centimetre precision. “Another link with space technology is our communication”, says Louis. “To make the correct decisions during sailing, we need stable communication between ship and shore. We do that by combining 4G, 5G and satellite communication. It’s a result of a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).”
Unique in the world
Flanders is, at this moment, the only region worldwide where commercial ships can be navigated remotely. “It gives us a head start”, says Louis. “In other countries, legislation is beginning to change. We’re getting ready to sell our technology and become a European top 3 player in the long term.”