EU grants NOK 200 million funding for autonomous ship research project

The European Union has awarded grant funding worth NOK 200 million (US$22.25 million) for a project that will install and test autonomous technology on two vessels in different operational environments.

The Autoship project will be carried out over a span of four years by a collaboration of Kongsberg Maritime, Norwegian research organisation SINTEF, the Research Council of Norway, and various other partners throughout Europe.

The aim of the project is to test and further develop key technology linked to fully autonomous navigation systems, intelligent machinery systems, self-diagnostics, prognostics and operation scheduling, as well as communication technology enabling a prominent level of cyber security and integrating the vessels into upgraded e-infrastructure.

As part of the project, two autonomous vessels will be demonstrated for use especially in short sea coastal shipping and Europe’s inland waterways.

The vessels selected to participate in the project are the Norwegian-flagged fish farm support boat Eidsvaag Pioneer and a pallet shuttle barge owned by Blue Line Logistics of Belgium. Kongsberg says that an autonomous barge in operation is expected to take around 7,500 trucks off the roads each year and will result in reductions in both traffic congestion and emissions.

Funding for the Autoship project has been provided via Horizon 2020, an EU research and innovation programme.

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