Session #08: Navigating Next: The Path to Autonomous Maritime Transport 

Throughout the session, we explored the future of inner-city waterborne transport, inland waterways, and coastal routes through the lens of autonomous shipping.

This unique gathering centered around the pivotal roles of our distinguished speakers, who brought a wealth of experience and insight from their respective roles and companies in navigating the complex landscape of terminal automation.

Our guests were:

Antoon Van Coillie, ZULU Associates

Antoon Van Coillie is an entrepreneur who started an inland shipping company, Blue Line Logistics, in 2011 with novel inland barges, so called Pallet Shuttle Barges (aka ZULU’s) which are specifically designed for moving goods on pallet, in bigbags or in roll containers. This realises a real modal shift from road to waterway in areas with road congestion and emission issues. The company started its activities in Belgium and is now expanding in other European countries.

Since then he has founded ZULU Associates, a platform to initiate, develop, integrate and invest in the marine component of logistic chains. The main areas of development pursued are autonomous inland barges, autonomous short sea shipping vessels as well as alternative propulsion modes in order to achieve zero or near to zero emission propulsion.

Through ZULU Associates, Antoon Van Coillie founded Anglo Belgian Shipping Company in order to develop specifically autonomous cross Channel vessels using the same base technology as in inland shipping. This is possible as many vectors in the development are similar.

Previously he was active in banking, construction and real estate development. He also served in the Belgian Navy as an officer on fishery protection and mine-sweeping and has extensive sailing experience ranging from dinghies to square-sail schooners (tall ships) .

He is convinced of the need for sustainability and this is one of the main drivers of his entrepreneurship. He has a degree of commercial engineer of the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and a MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. He is a Belgian American Educational Foundation alumnus.

Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, Director for Maritime ITS in ITS Norway and GM of Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships 

Ørnulf Jan Rødseth is one of the world's foremost experts on unmanned and autonomous ships, having been actively involved in this pioneering field since 2012. As the instigator and technical coordinator of the groundbreaking MUNIN project, his expertise and vision are shaping the future of maritime transport.

He has an MSc in cybernetics and electronic engineering from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in 1983 and has since 1995 worked with maritime digitalization, automation and autonomy.

He is director for Maritime ITS in ITS Norway and is the general manager of Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships. He is also a member of ISO TC8 and IEC TC80 and regularly meets at IMO as observer for ISO.

Marc Holstein, Account Manager at SEAFAR and Leader of the Remote Operation Center in the Port of Duisburg

Marc Holstein is a seasoned maritime logistics professional, currently serving as an Account Manager at SEAFAR. With a strong background in project management, strategic planning, and customer relations, Marc excels in integrating innovative technologies and sustainable practices into maritime operations.

At SEAFAR, Marc oversees the development and implementation of remote and semi-autonomous shipping projects, driving innovation and enhancing operational efficiency.

At duisport, Marc led key initiatives to modernize terminal operations, including establishing strategic collaborations, implementing sustainable transport solutions, and integrating advanced software systems. His work focused on optimizing logistics processes, supporting the launch of new terminals, and developing customer-centric logistics concepts.

With extensive experience in maritime logistics and a focus on remote and semi-autonomous solutions, Marc Holstein brings valuable insights into the implementation and scaling of autonomous water transportation. His expertise in integrating technology and sustainable practices positions him as a key contributor to advancing this field.


Christina Prieser, Associate Partner at HPC, has moderated the debate.

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