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Autonomous shipping

Autonomous / unmanned ship

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KONGSBERG is developing autonomous / unmanned / self-driving ship control systems. We are involved in a number of projects, that focus on integrated sensor technology, and automated collision avoidance. We are a key stakeholder in the world's first official autonomous vehicles test bed, and we hold the worlds first contracts for commercial delivery of an autonomous vessels.

Our portfolio of products and the way they integrate with each other to provide THE FULL PICTURE, makes us well qualified to deliver control systems for autonomous ships. We can deliver systems in compliance with the maritime anti-collision regulations (COLREGS), utilising fusion of data from our dynamic positioning and navigation, satellite and position reference, marine automation and communication systems.

The following information documents why KONGSBERG is in a unique position to deliver autonomous control systems and supporting equipment:

Control systems for autonomous ships

We pioneered radar based collision avoidance, delivering our first system back in 1969. We were the first to deliver commercially available dynamic positioning systems some 40 years ago. As the largest ship simulator manufacturer, we possess the ability to simulate and test all aspects of ship behaviour, communication and control. KONGSBERG have been and is involved in many activities needed to bring about the coming of autonomous ships.

For the more than 15 years we have worked to make our systems seamlessly integrate to provide THE FULL PICTURE. This has giving operators of our systems better overview and safer sailing. Since we manufacture very many of the systems required for autonomous operation ourselves, this strategy is now very useful in providing autonomous ship control systems; our systems already communicate with each other and share information.

Bringing about a control system for autonomous ships is a complicated task. KONGSBERG can draw on 20 years of experience in providing autonomous underwater vehicles (about 600 systems delivered), and more than 50 years experience from a variety of missile programs. Both areas utilise advanced sensor fusion and control algorithms to create a detailed 3D map of the operational area to secure safe autonomous operation.

Our K-MATE Autonomy Controller provides autonomous operation for most vessel that has an electrical interface to the engine and steering systems. For safe operations, the systems collision avoidance capability ensures that the vehicle avoids obstacles in the sea detected by its proximity sensors.

Autonomous ship projects

The following lists key projects where KONGSBERG is strongly is involved. The list includes both delivery and research projects. For the delivery projects KONGSBERG will deliver all key enabling technologies including the sensors and system integration required for remote and autonomous operations. The research projects includes modular control systems and communications technology that enable wireless monitoring and control both on and off the ship. They involve advanced decision support systems with a capability to operate ships remotely under full or semi-autonomous control.

YARA Birkeland - Automomous ship delivery project

Will be the world's first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. KONGSBERG is responsible for all key enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

YARA Birkeland will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019 and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020.

Autonomous, zero emission and 100% electric, 'YARA Birkeland' will be the world's most advanced container feeder ship.

Hrönn - Automomous ship delivery project

Leading marine Offshore services company, BOURBON has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Automated Ships Ltd to support the building of the world's first autonomous, fully-automated and cost-efficient prototype vessel for offshore operations, in collaboration with the project's primary technology partner, KONGSBERG.

Hrönn is a light-duty, offshore, utility ship servicing the offshore energy, scientific / hydrographic and offshore fish-farming industries. Its intended uses include but are not limited to: survey, remotely operated vehicle systems deployment, touch-down monitoring, unmanned underwater vehicle launch, recovery and monitoring, light intermodal cargo delivery and delivery to offshore installations, and open-water fish farm support.

KONGSBERG will contribute technology expertise and deliver all major marine equipment necessary for the design, construction and operation of Hrönn, including all systems for dynamic positioning and navigation, satellite and position reference, marine automation and communication. Its vessel control systems including K-Pos dynamic positioning, K-Chief automation and K-Bridge ECDIS will be replicated at an Onshore Control Centre, allowing full remote operations of the Hrönn.

The Hrönn
The autonomous offshore support vessel Hrönn is a light-duty, offshore utility ship servicing the offshore energy, scientific / hydrographic and offshore fish-farming industries.

SEA-KIT - Autonomy controller software delivery project

We have received the first order for K-MATE, our latest marine robotics innovation. K-MATE, an autonomous surface vehicle control system, will be integrated with SEA-KIT, a new class of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship being built by UK manufacturer, Hushcraft. SEA-KIT is a rugged, impact-safe and self-righting USV that can carry a deployable and retrievable payload of up to 2.5 tons. It is based on a unique AUV-USV concept, which will lead to more efficient, safer and cost-effective seafloor mapping operations.

SEA-KIT is due to be completed in Q3 2017.

K-Mate
SEA-KIT fitted with K-Mate autonomous surface vehicle control system

Full-electric, autonomous ferry concepts

KONGSBERG has signed a Research & Innovation contract with technology acceleration organisation PILOT-E for the development of zero emission, full-electric, autonomous ferry concepts. The overall vision for the PILOT-E Autonomous Ferry concept is to develop a state-of-the-art ferry as an integrated, zero emission aspect of a total national transportation plan.

Autonomous ferry concept
Artists impression of new zero emission, full-electric, autonomous ferry concept.

ASTAT - Autonomous Ship Transport at Trondheimsfjorden

The ASTAT project will examine possibilities for operating a small and battery powered unmanned autonomous ship in the Trondheimsfjord area. This will mainly be as replacement for today's truck transport. The project will develop a high level design for the ship and supporting equipment ashore. The design will in principle cover both bulk and break bulk transports. The project kick-off took place in May 2017 and the project will run for two years.

ASTAT map
The project will investigate three autonomous sailing cases as indicated.

AUTOSEA - Collision avoidance study

The AUTOSEA project focus on automated situation awareness using sensor fusion to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and vehicles when an increased level of autonomy is introduced.

SESAME Straits e-Navigation project

The project's objective is to improve the safety of vessel traffic and enable "just-in-time" arrival technology, improving the efficiency of existing port infrastructure, and reducing the environmental footprint by making it possible to predict possible vessel traffic hot-spots in congested waterways, as well as providing new strategies to avoid such congestions.

Autonomous ship test areas

Autonomous ships require new technology. This new technology needs ships and areas for testing and verification. Such test-areas are now made available in Norway:

Trondheimsfjord in Norway

An extensive area of the Trondheimsfjord in Northern Norway has been designated as an official test bed for autonomous shipping by the Norwegian Coastal Administration. Trials have already demonstrated the suitability of the area for autonomous ship testing.

Grenland in Norway

In May 2017, local port authorities applied to The Norwegian Costal Administration for a second autonomous test-area in Grenland, southern Norway. The area has considerably more traffic than the Trondheimsfjord, and will be useful for testing of more developed concepts in a heavy traffic environment. The area has full VTS coverage, which will further add to the usefulness of the test-area.

An entire Norwegian fjord now opens for testing autonomous ship technology.

Available test vessels

KONGSBERG operates four test / research vessels that meet all our autonomous development and verification needs. They are all well equipped research platforms and include two-way broad-band links to allow direct, full and safe communication with all our research facilities. Two of these vessels are specifically equipped for autonomous ship research / development, and the other two for autonomous ship, autonomous underwater vehicle, hydrography and other testing.

Ocean Space Drone I and II
The two 41 foot Ocean Space Drone I and II are first and foremost dedicated to testing of autonomous shipping functionality - used in the development of new sensor and control systems for autonomous operation.
This is Kongsberg Maritimes new research vessel "Sølvkrona - The Silver Crown". It is specially designed for testing autonomous technologies within the Ocean Space domain.
Simrad Echo
Simrad Echo, the largest and oldest vessels in our fleet - one of the most well equipped hydrographic test / research vessels in the world.

Simulator testing

KONGSBERG is a major ship simulator manufacturer. We possess simulator systems to test all aspects of autonomous sailing under various traffic, load and weather conditions.

For the YARA Birkeland project we will use extensive simulator testing. We have modelled the complete sailing area and will connect the autonomous ships control system to the simulator. The simulator will provide the sensor input to the autonomous control system, and will also have a full and very detailed model of the ship including all the ships dynamics. This will let us test all aspects of sailing and emergency situations in a completely safe environment. A built-in simulator can also be used for prediction purposes when the ship is operational.

Simulator operator station
Autonomous ship testing - From the simulator operator station.
Operational area
Autonomous ship sailing area including sailing routes.

Digital information platform

Kognifai is KONGSBERGs new open and collaborative digital platform that improves integration between the world of information technology and operational technology.

For autonomous shipping, it provides a safe platform to communicate and store all relevant data about the ship, creating a kind of "digital twin" of the ship. This virtual image can be maintained throughout the ships lifespan, creating a testbed for prediction and autonomy. The digital platform also provides an easy way to manage the volume of data required for reporting.

Kognifai Connect collects, coordinates and analyses your operation continuously - providing valuable data for next generation optimal design and predictive performance behaviour analysis.

Related activities and solutions

KONGSBERG have been and is involved in many activities needed to bring about the coming of autonomous ships. We pioneered radar based collision avoidance, and were the first to deliver commercially available dynamic positioning systems. As the largest supplier of autonomous underwater vehicles and of ship simulators, we possess the ability to simulate and test all aspects of ship behaviour, communication and control. We manufacture most of the key systems required for autonomous operation in-house. These systems seamlessly integrate to provide THE FULL PICTURE.

The following is a list or recent activities that relates to autonomous ship operation in one way or another:

Eelume - Subsea robot project: The Eelume underwater Intervention vehicles is a self-propelled robotic arms whose slender and flexible body can transit over long distances and carry out light inspection, maintenance and repair jobs in confined spaces.

The subsea janitor has successfully been demonstrated in deep waters of the Trondheimsfjord. Check out the snakes smooth movements and superior manoeuvrability in the water.

Munin - Autonomous underwater vehicle - test project: Munin is a high performance, small platform, modular autonomous underwater vehicle. It has a comprehensive navigation and positioning capability that can tie the data to a meaningful georeferenced solution.

Maritime Broadband Radio: Test using four autonomous units – an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), an unmanned surface vessel (USV), an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and a tethered relay balloon – were guided from a mother ship in various tasks.

Live streaming of survey data: Kongsberg Maritime teamed up with ASV Global to demonstrate how survey, communication and positioning technology can be used with a new generation of advanced Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV).

Seamless data, voice and HD video transfer: How to enjoy complete situational awareness during multi-asset offshore operations, across large areas, with multiple teams working simultaneously.

Through-ice location and communication system: Kongsberg Maritime, has joined forces with Scottish communication technology company, WFS, to develop a wireless system for locating and communicating with AUVs in ice conditions.

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