European Space Agency to support autonomous vessel development

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a Memorandum of Intent with autonomous vessel technology alliance One Sea, which will see the agency support the development of space-based applications to analyse, enable and implement maritime digitalisation and autonomous systems.

The One Sea alliance includes stakeholders from across the maritime and ICT industries working together to accelerate the delivery of autonomous vessel technologies, under the guidance of project leader DIMECC in Finland.

ESA’s participation aligns with the space agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) Business Applications programme, which aims to support European organisations in delivering commercial products and services that benefit user communities across a number of vertical domains.

“This is an important statement of intent, through which One Sea and the ESA acknowledge the significance that ongoing digitalisation and autonomy have for the maritime industries,” said Jukka Merenluoto, DIMECC, who heads up the One Sea project.

“Expertise from different disciplines is necessary to transform today’s connectivity capabilities for tomorrow’s needs, and this MoI represents a unique opportunity to develop applications and services that leverage assets on the ground and in space.”

The knowledge-sharing agreement will include the shared use of resources, expertise and facilities belonging to the signatories to achieve their common goals, with explicit reference made to the future use of DIMECC’s Jaakonmeri test area for autonomous vessels – a dedicated test zone for autonomous ship technology, located off western Finland.

Finnish regulators have already granted authorisation to One Sea to oversee future trials of emerging technologies in the area.

“It is with great satisfaction that we start the cooperation with DIMECC and the other actors participating in the One Sea Alliance,” said Rita Rinaldo, Head of the ESA Institutional Projects Section.

“We expect that the current initiative, thanks to the engagement of the partners, will foster the emergence of innovative space-based downstream solutions addressing the key challenges of the future maritime and shipping sector.”

One Sea members include: ABB, Cargotec, Ericsson, Inmarsat, Kongsberg Maritime, MTI, Tieto, Wärtsilä and Finnpilot Pilotage. Other partners include RINA, Finnish Marine Industries, Shipbrokers Finland, Finnish Port Association and Finnish Shipowners’ Association.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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