Dutch partnership to develop autonomous sailing technology

Photo: Damen
Photo: Damen

A partnership of Dutch companies and institutions led by the Damen Shipyards Group, through its subsidiary Damen Naval, will trial a new remotely controlled vessel in Vlissingen harbour as part of a project that seeks to develop a new system for conducting autonomous sailings.

The vessel that will serve as the testbed under the Fieldlab Autonomous Sailing Technology (FAST) project is a 1990-built Damen-designed catamaran.

The vessel will be refurbished and converted in the coming months. The two diesel engines will be replaced by two electric engines while cameras, sensors, radar, LIDAR, GPS equipment, and wind and speed gauges will also be installed.

The other partners on the project include the Province of Zeeland, Municipality of Vlissingen, HZ University of Applied Sciences, TU Delft, and local companies such as Kloosterboer, Vlaeynatie and Zeeland Boten.

Project leader Jochem Nonhebel said the partners intend to develop the technology in such a way that it can also be implemented on larger vessels.

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