A new autonomous shipping test area is due to open off the Finnish coast, boosting significant projects already underway in the country.
The testbed is intended to secure Finland’s position as “the global hot-spot for marine remote control and autonomous technologies” according to Markus Laurinen of Rolls-Royce, one of the cluster of companies involved in making the concept a reality.
Kari Saari of Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications said he expected a testbed located to be available by late spring. This follows the opening of the world’s first autonomous ship test bed in Norway’s Trondheimsfjord late last year.
The alliance is coordinated by DIMECC under an autonomous ecosystem project, announced in September last year, that aims to build demonstrator coastal cargo vessels by 2025. DIMECC underlined that membership of the alliance remains open to those who can add something concrete to the development.
Saari explained that the project won’t be limited to onboard systems: linked to the test basin in both a conceptual and physical sense will be an “intelligent fairway”. Based on vessel traffic systems, the fairway will add an extra layer of services, transmitting weather reports and forecasts to the incoming ships – whether autonomous or not – alongside water and seabed data, allowing vessels to optimise their loading patterns. Saari added that the intelligent fairway could be replicated along the coast of Finland.
The minister noted that pursuing the project within the borders of a single country before opening the initiative internationally will present the easiest path, considering the fundamental changes to rules and IMO regulations that will eventually be necessary.
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Source: The Motorship