Norwegian shipping firm Kongsberg Maritime has carried out successful autonomous technology tests on a cargo ship off Norway’s coastline, completing one of the most complex autonomous journeys at sea to date. The trial involved Eidsvaag Pioneer, which is one of two ships along the Norwegian coast designated for remotely operated and autonomous transport demonstrations for the Autoship project, which is part of the EU’s research program, Horizon 2020. The demonstration lasted 13 hours and featured the ship taking a journey of around 160 nautical miles off the coast of Kristiansund.
The Kongsberg Remote Operating Center (ROC) crew conducted the demonstration and displayed a mix of remote and autonomous operations during different voyage stages. The ship completed a range of maneuvers, including automatic undocking, navigating the ship and maneuvering out of port and further out to sea, multi-island routing, and avoiding other sea traffic, before returning to port and docking again. Crew members were on board the ship during the test drives for safety and compliance purposes.
The Autoship project is being conducted by a large team of people from Kongsberg, shipowner Eidsvaag AS, the University of Strathclyde, the UK, and Norway’s leading research organization, SINTEF. The project aims to accelerate the transition from road to greener and safer sea transport deployment of remote control and autonomy. The second Autoship demonstration will feature a barge navigating part of the Wintam inland waterway network in Belgium on June 1.
Kongsberg Maritime has deployed automatic undocking and docking, situational awareness, autonomous navigation, intelligent machine system, connectivity and cybersecurity technology systems, remote operations center, dynamic positioning, and cloud-based communication systems technologies, among others. The aim is to pave the way for the remote and autonomous operation of ships regularly. Commenting on the demonstration, Kongsberg CEO, Geir Håøy, said that the demonstration was an opportunity to show that “remotely operated and autonomous technology can be successfully deployed on a general cargo ship to take over a range of operational aspects of a typical voyage”.
The aim of the Autoship project is to test and enhance key technologies that will enable a high level of cybersecurity and ships that integrate enhanced e-infrastructure, forecasting, self-diagnostics, mission planning, intelligent machine systems, and autonomous navigation systems related to the transition to fully autonomous navigation. The second demonstration day in Belgium is expected to test some of these technologies again.