The smartest container this planet has even seen...

Container 42 is an innovation, research and serendipity platform for stakeholders in shipping, ports and related technology. It is meant to answer questions about the future of technology, sustainability and logistical efficiency.

Smart port infrastructure.

As one of the leading ports in the world, with the ambition to be the smartest port, Rotterdam is taking the lead in the digital transformation of port and logistics. The Port of Rotterdam Authority and market players are experimenting with taking the operation of the port to an even higher level through digitisation. Part of these experiments is the development of Container 42. The container is equipped with sensors and communication technology, and it will travel around the world for 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.

Autonomous shipping.

Digitisation contributes to the ambition to make autonomous sailing possible within the port of Rotterdam by 2030. Container 42 symbolizes (semi) autonomous ships that in the near future need all kinds of new, hyper-secure and accurate information in order to perform their (semi) autonomous tasks in a safety and reliable manner. Standardization also plays a crucial role. By using global, open standards, it is easy for all links in the chain to connect and therefore make maximum use of the real-time data available. With Container 42 we can set these standards.

Innovative partnerships.

The partners involved have a shared vision on how new technologies will increase safety, sustainability and efficiency in shipping and ports. With recent developments in the field of software, hardware, standardization 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 collected information will offer all parties in the supply chain more insight and the capability of further optimising processes. Become also a partner of Container 42!

42: The answer to life, the universe and everything.

When Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he added a central joke which has become more famous over the years than the novel itself: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” Geeks have since wasted years and massive effort trying to ascribe some deep, symbolic significance to the number and its occurrences.

The past

On 3rd May 1966, the 1st container vessel Fairland, moored in the Port of Rotterdam. And it changed our world. A simple, strong, steel box. Easy to load and unload. Easy to transport from ship to truck and vice versa. For more than 50 years its original design has remained unchanged. Until the launch of Container 42. This container will give answers to tomorrow’s questions. It will explore the digital world of shipping like never before.

With Container 42 we honour our past inventors, like James Watt (steam machine), Josef Ressel (ship propeller), Nikola Tesla (remote controlled boat), Malcolm P. Mclean (container), Max Newman
(computer), Keith Tantlinger (twistlook mechanism), Roger Tomlinson (geographical information system), Tim Berners Lee (internet). And we honour our past explorers, like Marco Polo (one of the first explorers to travel the Silk Road, travel around Asia and visit China), Vasco da Gama (the first person who successfully sail from Europe to India), Christopher Columbus (believed he had discovered America), Captain James Cook (known for his exploration of the Pacific Ocean and accurate mapping), Hendrik Hamel (VOC seafarer known for the report of his shipwreck and years of stay in Korea), Henry Hudson (sailed the Atlantic Coast, before discovering what would become the Hudson River in the USA), Zhenge He (explored the world under orders from the emperor of China and established numerous new trade routes along the way).


James Watt
Steam Machine
Nikola Tesla
RC Boat
Malcolm P. Mclean
Max Newman
Keith Tantlinger
Twistlock Mechanism
Roger Tomlinson
Geographical Info System
Tim Berners Lee


Marco Polo
Silk Road / China
Vasco de Gama
Europe / India
Christopher Columbus
James Cook
Pacific Ocean
Hendrik Hamel
VOC / Korea
Henry Hudson
Atlantic Coast
Zheng He
New Trade Route