ESA to fund autonomous ship research project

Image: Tallink Grupp
Image: Tallink Grupp – Megastar

The European Space Agency (ESA) will be funding a programme that seeks to ensure safer autonomous navigation for ships using a combination of different sensors, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Estonian ferry operator Tallink Grupp, Finnish IT company Fleetrange, the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, and Aalto University in Greater Helsinki will jointly carry out the research programme, titled Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Sensor Fusion for Autonomous Vessel Navigation (Maritime AI-NAV).

The technology to be employed will combine data from visual images, environmental sound recordings, radar and LiDar (light detection and ranging), satellite navigation, and vessel transponders.

The sensors will be installed on Tallink’s Ro-Pax ferry Megastar (pictured) which will serve as a research testbed while the data processing will be performed using innovative AI and machine learning software.

The goal is to automatically identify and recognise objects such as aids to navigation and other vessels around the testbed and provide improved situational awareness information through sensor fusion.

Megastar will conduct practical field tests on the Helsinki-Tallinn route on the Baltic Sea.

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