New autonomous zero-emission containership design unveiled

A new design for an autonomous zero-emission short sea containership has been unveiled by Belgium based ZULU Associates. The 200 teu vessel, featuring an auxiliary wind assistance system, is a larger seagoing development of an inland waterways 90 TEU X-Barge, currently under final construction design.

The latest design has been produced by Dutch ship naval architects Conoship International.

Zulu Associates CEO Antoon Van Coillie said that the company was “delighted to be working with Conoship International, who share our passion for innovation. Working with Conoship we are challenging ourselves to build the most advanced and innovative vessel we can. As a result, apart of being fully electric and autonomous, we’re adding wind blades and examining wave foil propulsion. This is a very exciting time for short sea ship building where traditional concepts are being challenged, driving change and enabling new zero emission possibilities.”

The designers are looking for the vessel to operate with modular energy containers using batteries and/or hydrogen based power systems to provide the prime energy sources. Discussions with providers of energy on a use basis are ongoing in parallel with the design as this will be an integral part of the vessel’s operation.

Van Coillie said that “autonomy is still in its infancy but we want to show what is possible and support the process of regulation keeping pace with innovation. As a result, the Zulu MASS is designed from the outset to be unmanned as a part of a Maritime Autonomy System, which will allow it to compete with fossil fuelled or hybrid vessels.”

Belgium, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming to harmonize the procedures to obtain certification for an unmanned ship to sail between the four countries. Van Coillie said that “this should result in a single request replacing the need of having to apply for two to more permits. We aim to seize the initiative of this opportunity and get the Zulu Mass in the water as a world first and industry trailblazer in 2025.”