Netherlands Maritime Technology Holds First Series Of Tests With Autonomous Sailing Ship
A unique series of tests took place on 19 and 20 March with autonomous operations in the North Sea, about 5 nautical miles from the coast at Den Helder. The SeaZip 3, a Damen Fast Crew Supplier 2610 ‘Twin Ax’ (Bureau Veritas class, Dutch flag) from SeaZip Offshore Services, was equipped with intelligent control to prevent collisions and participated in various runs of nautical scenarios to facilitate interaction of the ship with other shipping traffic.
The tests are part of the Joint Industry Project Autonomous Shipping, a two-year research and innovation project on autonomous operations of sea-going vessels that started in 2017. “We are proud that our consortium of seventeen partners is the first autonomous operation with sea-going ships in the North Sea, “says Marnix Krikke, Innovation Director at the Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) branch organization and project leader of the Joint Industry Project:” A total of eleven scenarios were implemented in which the SeaZip 3 interacted with two other ships. These were the ‘Octans’ a training vessel of the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz and the ‘Guardian’, an Emergency Towing Vessel controlled by the Dutch Coast Guard. These scenarios are the result of research by the TU Delft knowledge institutions, MARIN and TNO. They were first tested in the MARIN simulation center in Wageningen and last week in the North Sea. ”
By testing the scenarios, the partners involved demonstrated how the decision-making process works from an autonomous system that sails safely and makes time for other shipping. The autonomous system of Robosys Automation was linked to the operating system of the SeaZip 3 and performed the manoeuvres in a safe manner. The partners concluded that further development of autonomous systems is necessary to respond efficiently to complex shipping situations.
Roadmap autonomous shipping
The demonstration provides input for a roadmap to autonomous shipping, thanks to the insights into the state of current technology, the obstacles to be taken and the potential of technology. The Roadmap gives direction to development within the maritime industry, knowledge institutions, universities and governments. In addition, it provides insights into regulations and aspects such as risk management. “The impact and the possibility of developments in the field of autonomy in shipping are enormous. As SeaZip Offshore Service, we are constantly working on innovation and are therefore very proud that our offshore service ship SeaZip 3 is the first ship to conduct a test sail in the North Sea fully autonomously.
This Joint Industry Project is unique because it is supported by a broad consortium of stakeholders; SeaZip Offshore Service, Fugro and Pilotage, shipbuilders Damen Shipyards and Feadship, design agency DEKC Maritime, technology suppliers Bosch Rexroth, Robosys Automation, knowledge institutes MARIN, TNO, TU Delft, class agency Bureau Veritas, maritime schools Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz NHL Stenden Rotterdam Mainport Institute (STC and Hogeschool Rotterdam) and project coordinator Dutch Maritime Technology. The central government is represented by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management and the Ministry of Defense (Defense Material Organization).
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