“Some of the technology has already been around for many years. So it’s really putting it together,” says An-Magritt Ryste, director for next generation shipping at Kongsberg Maritime.
According to Ms Ryste, there’s also interest in using autonomous navigation in fishing, passenger ferries and military vessels.
Kongsberg already makes autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which largely carry out seabed mapping tasks for customers in offshore energy, ocean research and defence.
Recently, the firm delivered an 8m, unmanned surface vessel (USV) that detects fish stocks, using acoustic sonars and navigating by AI, cameras, radar, and GPS.
“They’re also supervised by humans, who can intervene. But they are fully autonomous,” says Bjørn Jalving, Kongsberg’s Senior Vice President of Technology.
Kongsberg has been scaling up the technology for larger vessels. “Eventually I think limitations will not be technical, it’s a matter of making it safe and secure in compliance with regulations, and good business for the operators,” says Mr Jalving.
Of course one of the big attractions for shipping firms, is the costs saved by not having a crew aboard. One team could potentially monitor several ships, says Mr Jalving. Plus it’s safer for a crew to be on land, rather than at sea.
Other companies are also working on autonomous shipping projects.
Last year in Japan, a 222m car ferry self-navigated and docked using technology by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company.
Meanwhile, a commercial ship completed a month-long voyage from Texas to South Korea, navigating autonomously for about half of the 20,000km route.
The ship’s optimal route choice saved fuel and emissions, according to the ship’s technology provider, Avikus, part of the ship building firm HD Hyundai.
Scroll To Top