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SINTEF makes important contributions to autonomous maritime transport

Illustration: the Kongsberg Group
The 21st of January marked the start of the four-year project AUTOSHIP. This self-propelled vessel research project is supported by EU's Horizon 2020 research programme. The project has a frame of more than 20 million euros, which is one of the largest allocations given to Norwegian players ever.

Together with several international players, the Kongsberg Group and SINTEF are collaborating on the AUTOSHIP project. The project, which has significantly increased SINTEF's focus on autonomous vessels, has added two new full-time positions for the duration of the project period. 

- As a research partner in AUTOSHIP, SINTEF Ocean will mainly use the project to further develop methods for cost-effective and safe designs for future autonomous transport systems, says senior research from SINTEF Ocean Ørnulf Jan Rødseth. 

Increasing competitiveness for freight transport at sea

The overall goal of the project is to help reduce emissions and increase the competitiveness for freight transport at sea. This is partly done by reducing costs, for example by reducing staff, and partly by increasing flexibility, for example by allowing smaller vessels to enter smaller ports and terminals more often. This will be demonstrated in two autonomous transport systems, one for cargo on Belgian channels and one for shipping of fishing liners along the Norwegian coast.

The marking took place in Kristiansund, aboard the Eidsvaag Pioner, which is one of the two vessels that will be equipped for remote and autonomous sea transport. The ship is owned by the shipping company Eidsvaag and operates along the Norwegian coast and in vulnerable fjord regions with shipping of fish feed to fish farms.

More sustainable freight transport

SINTEF already has a wide range of projects within autonomous vessels. For AUTOSHIP, SINTEF has defined three initiatives that may prove crucial:

  1. Development of better methods for early design of autonomous ship transport systems.
  2. Establishing international standards to increase innovation in digital and autonomous shipping.
  3. Further development of the communication systems for autonomous vessels.

In this project, SINTEF will strengthen these initiatives, facilitate increased use of autonomous vessels in new transport systems, and thus contribute to a significantly more sustainable freight transport.