The AUTOSHIP project, part the Horizon 2020 EU research programme, has successfully demonstrated a range of remote and autonomous technologies on a cargo vessel operating off the coast of Norway.
The demonstration in the North Sea was the result of a collaboration between a team of people from Kongsberg and shipowner Eidsvaag, also including Norwegian research organisation SINTEF and the University of Strathclyde in the UK.
The Eidsvaag Pioner is one of two vessels that have been equipped with technologies to support remote-operated and autonomous transport demonstrations for the project. The ship operates along the Norwegian coast and in fjord areas where it carries fish feed to ocean fish-farms.
The demonstration was carried out over 13 hours and involved the vessel completing a voyage outside the coast of Kristiansund on the northwest coast of Norway. The ship undocked from the port of Averøy, sailed to the world’s first ocean fish-farm and back to port again, a journey of about 160 nautical miles in total.
The demonstration was initiated, managed and monitored by the crew from the Kongsberg Remote Operating Centre (ROC) on land in Ålesund. It involved a mix of remote and autonomous operations during different stages of the voyage, with crew members present on board during the test for safety and regulatory reasons.
The first part of the demonstration included automatic undocking from the quay at Averøy. The autonomous technology then took control to navigate and manoeuvre out of the harbour and further out to open sea, at which point the ship navigated a route between several islands and avoided other sea traffic, before arriving at the offshore fish farm.
Various manoeuvres were then carried out using the Dynamic Positioning (DP) system before the ship began its return to port, again navigating open seas and congested seaways before it automatically docked once again. The entire operation was monitored and controlled remotely where required by the shore-based captain and engineer.
“This was an opportunity to show the world that remote and autonomous technologies can be successfully deployed on a general cargo vessel, carrying out a range of operational aspects of a typical voyage,” said CEO of Kongsberg, Geir Håøy.
“There has been great collaboration between all partners in the AUTOSHIP project, and we have all been impressed with how the Eidsvaag Pioner performed under remote control and during autonomous sailing and docking.”
A second AUTOSHIP demonstration will take place on 1st June and involve a cargo barge navigating part of the inland waterway network in Wintam, Belgium.