Autonomous shipping technology company SEAFAR has announced a deal to integrate satellite communications from neXat into its remote ship navigation system for short sea shipping (SSS), to be sued during live testing for a project in Belgium.
The two-year remote navigation project is co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is being tested at sea with a Belgian short sea shipping company sailing in the Baltic Sea, and from Spain to both the UK and to Antwerp, Belgium.
The initial scope of the project is to integrate 4G and 5G connectivity with satellite communications into a fully managed service to support critical operations for autonomous shipping.
“Remote monitoring and control of ships addresses the increasing need for qualified and skilled crew, as well as reducing the risk of ‘human error’,” said SEAFAR’s Chief Commercial Officer Janis Bargsten.
“But a major barrier to the development of autonomous shipping has been the ability to access ubiquitous coverage to ensure seamless communications, situational awareness and safety.”
neXat’s platform will manage connectivity by automatically switching from 4G or 5G to satellite as required, to ensure that real time data, including camera feeds, performance monitoring and navigational information, is continuously shared with SEAFAR’s Remote Operations Centre
neXat’s monitoring and management capabilities will also be integrated into SEAFAR dashboards to provide captains with information on operational performance, with camera streams and information about engine sounds, position, heading, and the speed of the vessel – as well as details on surrounding vessels provided by AIS – all delivered through the platform.
The system – called SeaNext – will monitor all available networks, providing a connectivity ‘heatmap’, allowing ship owners and service providers to plan ahead for coverage black spots in remote locations.
“This solution will have a positive impact on the ability of shipping companies to optimise their fleets and improve safety and reliability,” said neXat’s Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder Caroline De Vos.
“For neXat, this represents our growth in an important sector following the establishment of our Maritime Business Unit and demonstrates the applicability of our neXat OSS/BSS monitoring solution for vertical markets.”
neXat’s platform will provide monitoring information through APIs for SEAFAR to collect in a machine-to-machine format for integration into its dashboards for remote captains to access.