SeaZip Glimpses Into Autonomous Shipping Future

Offshore service vessel Seazip 3 has performed the first-ever autonomous maneuvering trials in the Dutch North Sea as part of the Autonomous Shipping joint industry project.

The fast crew supply (FCS) vessel was outfitted with collision avoidance technology and took part in 11 nautical scenarios on 19 and 20 March offshore Den Helder to determine how it would interact with seagoing traffic.

SeaZip 3 interacted with Octans, a training vessel of the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz, and Guardian, an emergency towage vessel operated by The Netherlands Coastguard.

The autonomous system provided by Robosys Automation, connected to the onboard autopilot and machinery control system, performed the evasive maneuvers in a safe way, project partners said, concluding that further development of the systems is required to cope with complex marine traffic situations in a more efficient way.

“We are proud that our consortium of 17 partners established the first ever autonomous operations with seagoing vessels held at the North Sea,” said Marnix Krikke, Innovation Director at Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) and the project leader.

“These scenarios are the outcome of research by Technical University of Delft, MARIN and TNO. The scenarios were first tested in the MARIN simulator centre in Wageningen and now, last week, in a real-life environment on the North Sea.”

According to project partners, by testing the scenarios, the decision-making process of an autonomous system in ensuring safe sailing and avoiding collisions with other vessels was presented.

The demonstration is said to provide input for an autonomous shipping roadmap which will define the lessons learned and the obstacles, technology and potential, as well as steps to be taken towards further realization.

The roadmap is expected to guide the development of technology within the Dutch maritime industry, knowledge institutions, academia and the government.

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