These pages will provide briefing on projects related to autonomous ships that NFAS members participate in. This applies to both completed and ongoing projects.

Norwegian projects

Centre for Research-based Innovation: SFI AutoShip

SFI Autoship is a 8-years research-based innovation centre that will contribute to Norwegian players taking a leading role in the development of autonomous ships for safe and sustainable operations. The focus areas include: - Enabling technologies like situational awareness, artificial intelligence, autonomous and control and digital infrastructure. - New business models and operational concepts like the adaptation of shore control centers and development cost-effective solutions for logistics and port solutions. - Methods and models for monitoring risk and the clarification of the legal aspects of liability when a captain is not on board. The centre has more than 20 partners from the Norwegian maritime industry, including end users, product and service suppliers, research institutes, universities and government. The centre started in December 2020.

1.4 million EUR to autonomous transport in Møre og Romsdal

The Ministry of Transport and Communications in Norway gives NOK 12.5 million to the county of "Møre og Romsdal" for the development of new autonomous passenger ferries and vessels The project will link sea and coast, will focus on maritime transport and universal design, will examine what opportunities autonomous vessels can provide, have contacts with relevant actors in academia as well as in business and is considered particularly innovative (June 2018). The project will start at the end of 2018.

Online risk management and risk control for autonomous ships

The ORCAS project will develop novel technological solutions for online risk management and risk control of autonomous ships. Cutting-edge interdisciplinary research combining cybernetics and risk management aims to achieve high level of autonomy, intelligence and decision-making capabilities for autonomous ships. The goal is to enhance the realization of autonomous ships by developing safer and smarter automatic sailing systems and power and propulsion systems that are able to detect, perceive, verify, monitor, control and follow-up deviations and potential hazards.

MAMIME: World’s first Maritime 5G communication project

LTE, WIFI and 5G Massive MIMO Communications in Maritime Propagation Environments (MAMIME), funded by Norwegian Research Council, 2016-2019, is the world's first 5G maritime communication research project. This project aims at developing optimized LTE and WIFI systems and researching dedicated 5G solutions for the maritime applications. The research is focused on land-to-boat and boat-to-boat communications, which is within Norwegian national interests.

Concept development autonomous passenger ferry Ballstad

The purpose of the project is to clarify the possibility of a ferry at Ballstad, based on future autonomous ship technology. The idea is to evaluate new technology and see if this may be a solution to resolve communications challenges in the area.

ASTAT – Autonomous Ship Transport at Trondheimsfjorden

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

Yara Birkeland

The vessel Yara Birkeland will be the world's first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. With this vessel, Yara will reduce diesel-powered truck haulage by 40,000 journeys a year. Operation is planned to start in the latter half of 2018, shipping products from Yara's Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway. Birkeland will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remoteYara operation in 2019 and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020. The new zero-emission vessel will be a game-changer for global maritime transport contributing to meet the UN sustainability goals. More information can be found at Yara's web pages.

Milli-Ampere: Autonomous passenger ferry

Milli-Ampere is a small autonomous and unmanned passenger ferry that is intended for sue in teh port area of Trondheim. It is an on-demand ferry that is proposed as an alternative to a bridge that would otherwise hinder boat traffic in the area. NTNU is leading the development work.

Test area Trondheimsfjorden

Through an agreement between national authorities and the industry and research organizations in the Trondheim region, a partnership has been established to develop Trondheimsfjorden into a test area for autonomous vessels. The agreement was signed aboard the research vessel Gunnerus 30th September 2016. The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate the testing of fully or partly unmanned vessels and to exchange experience and data to facilitate the development and use of such vehicles.

Test area Greenland

In May 2017, the port authorities in the Grenland area applied for test-area status. This area has much more traffic than Trondheim and will in particular be useful to test more developed concepts in heavy traffic environments. The area also includes an VTS which will further add to the usefulness as a test-area. There is also significant maritime industry and research going on in the area and they will get test facilities much closer to home.

EU projects with NFAS participation

7.5 million Euro to autonomous ships and ports

Inland and short sea ships and their ports is a critical part of Europe's transport system. With stricter requirements on decarbonization and reduced noise and pollution from the transport sector, the importance should only increase! However, the convenience and flexibility of road transport still tend to trumph the sustainability goals. The AEGIS project has been selected by the EU Commission to show that autonomous ships and automation in ports can make waterborne transport much more flexible and user oriented, while continuing to reduce the societal and environmental impact of EU transport. This will be the Advanced, Efficient and Green Intermodal Systems - AEGIS.

20 million Euro to autonomous ship demonstrator

AUTOSHIP - Autonomous Shipping Initiative for European Waters - aims at speeding-up the transition towards a next generation of autonomous ships in EU. The project will build and operate 2 different autonomous vessels, demonstrating their operative capabilities in Short Sea Shipping and Inland Water Ways scenarios, with a focus on goods mobility.

Enable Autonomous Navigation in Close Proximity

KONGSBERG Coordinates EU-Funded Project to Enable Autonomous Navigation in Close Proximity. 'Hull to Hull' (H2H) established to develop digital twin technology combining GNSS with 3D modelling for navigation support and autonomy controller input.

MUNIN – Concept study for unmanned bulk ship

MUNIN was an EU project that ran from summer 2012 to summer 2015. The purpose was to do a concept study for a completely unmanned Handymax bulk carrier. The project came right at the start of the great interest that autonomous ship later created, and has published a number of articles and open reports. MARINTEK (now SINTEF Ocean) was technical coordinator of MUNIN.

ENABLE*3 Shore based bridge concept

NAVTOR is the only Norwegian industrial partner in the ENABLE*3 project and is owner of the maritime demonstrator. This demonstrator will explore new, advanced simulation and testing opportunities in the maritime industry through close dialogue and cooperation with partners from the automotive industry in Europe. Methods, processes, references and virtual test benches utilized in the automotive industry are to be adapted to the maritime sector, and the results will be demonstrated and evaluated. Focus will be on knowledge transfer from especially the automotive industry: Early, systematic simulation, testing and validation. This also means looking at the possibility of new types of approval procedures for navigation systems based on scenario simulation adapted from the automotive industry.

Other international projects

Signing MoU between Smart Ship Coalition and NFAS

At October 21st 2017, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, and the general manager of NFAS, Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for exchange of information and non-competitive cooperation on smart ship technology and autonomous ships. This is part of an international network of organisations working on unmanned ship technology that is under establishmbent. The "Smart Ship Coalition" covers organisations in the Great Lakes region both in USA and Canada. More information can be found in their December 2017 newsletter.