World’s First Test Area for Autonomous Ship Unveiled

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An agreement has been signed between The Norwegian Maritime Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration which allows for testing of autonomous ships in the Trondheim fjord.

Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Mr. Olav Akselsen, “We do not yet know how widespread autonomy will be in future shipping, but for the Norwegian Maritime Authority, it is imperative to be a central participant in this development”.

The Trondheim fjord will have the honour of being the first selected test area in the world for testing autonomous (unmanned) ships.  So far, there have only been testing areas for autonomous cars.  

This initiative is a collaboration between NTNU, Kongsberg Seatex, Kongsberg Maritime, MARINTEK and Maritime Robotics has in cooperation with Trondheim Harbour and the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

Akselsen states, “There are a lot of exciting things happening in the shipping industry nowadays, both within autonomy and within new environmentally friendly solutions.  The Norwegian Maritime Authority is an important partner for those who deal in innovation.  We wish to cooperate with the industry so that we can be leading in the development of rules and regulations that take into consideration the new technical solutions”.

The guests will be given a live demonstration of the autonomous ships after the agreement was signed in Trondheim.  A meeting condition between the NTNU-vessel “Gunnerus”, and an autonomous ship proved the principles of autonomy.

The Director General has stated that this initiative will be important for Norway as a maritime nation and that it may be of significance to the future maritime industry. Furthermore, the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS) will be established next week – a forum which is brought about at the initiative of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Norwegian Industry, and MARINTEK.  Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, will carry out the official opening of the NFAS.

Director General said, “Both today’s happening and next week’s establishment of the NFAS demonstrate that Norway has already taken the lead in maritime autonomy.  This gives us a head start that in the long run may come to mean a lot for both Norway as a nation as well as for the Norwegian maritime industry”.

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Source: Norwegian Maritime Authority