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Port of Rotterdam debuts Douglas Adams-inspired smart shipping experiment

The Port of Rotterdam issued a white paper today on smart shipping in which it revealed details of a new smart container experiment it is carrying out with partners.

Called Container 42, the box is equipped with sensors and communication technology, and it is set to travel around the world for the next two years to collect data that had until now been invisible. Vibrations, pitch, position, noise, air pollution, humidity and temperature are among the things that will be recorded.

The Container 42 innovation and research platform, led by Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, aims to answer questions about the future of technology, sustainability and logistics efficiency.

“With recent developments in the field of software, hardware, standardisation and legislation, autonomous and semi-autonomous vessels with optimal decision support are more realistic than ever. However, there is still uncertainty surrounding many questions and answers. The Container 42 platform will explore that unknown territory,” the port stated in its white paper.

Before this solar panel equipped container begins its journey around the world, Container 42 will be making a public appearance at the Transport Logistic 2019 trade fair in Munich next month.

Port officials confirmed to Splash today that the name Container 42 is in homage to Douglas Adams’ cult book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”, calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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