Asia’s first autonomous vessels testing site underway in China

Construction of Asia’s first test field for unmanned cargo ships has begun at Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province.

Local media report the 771.6-square-kilometre test field in the Wanshan Marine Area is a joint program between local government, China Classification Society, Wuhan University of Technology and unmanned vessel company Oceanalpha.

Infrastructure and support facilities, such as network communication, navigation radar, optoelectronic devices and automatic mooring systems, will be built on nearby islands.

The Zhuhai government said the 21.6-square-kilometre first phase will be used for debugging work and the second phase for performance tests.

The test field will contribute to the development of China’s unmanned ship industry and establish nationwide standards.

Oceanalpha is working with several partners to produce new-energy unmanned cargo ships.

Its small unmanned surface vehicle, JinDouYun (meaning “cloud-borne”), will be tested by the end of this year and put into commercial operation in 2019.

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