The Flemish government has approved projects on crewless self-navigating boats. The idea was put forward by Mobility minister Ben Wyets (N-VA). The first pilot projects could start in the second semester of this year.
There is a trial currently underway on the Yser, with a scaled-down model of a self-navigating boat (4.6 metres long). The project partners (Vlaamse Waterweg, POM West-Vlaanderen and KU Leuven) are looking into how possible it is for a boat to navigate without a pilot and if it is viable to deploy autonomous and intelligent boats on Belgium’s waterways.
The next step is to test self-navigation systems on “real” boats.
Ben Wyets says that a few private parties are already on the starting blocks and the first tests could take place in the second semester of this year.
Most of the projects will focus on crewless and remote-controlled boats, but some will work on boats that completely self-navigate without any human interaction.