Autonomous Shipping is a Joint Industry Project (JIP) that brings together a Dutch consortium of maritime businesses, knowledge & educational institutions, service providers, and governments in a two-year applied research programme. As explained, the project will look at ways to deploy existing technical solutions in autonomous shipping applications. These solutions will be demonstrated both in simulators and in practice.

The study will start with an exploration and analysis of possible applications. Next, it will look at the requirements for safe navigation in shipping environments – autonomous vessels will have to make the right decisions even in case of malfunctions or heavy traffic.

Then, the project will examine whether it is possible to use existing techniques to mitigate or fix these malfunctions from shore. This will be tested by means of simulations and various demonstrations, both in the office environment and on board actual vessels. The project should lead to a roadmap for the introduction of autonomy in shipping.

The Delft University of Technology, MARIN and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), in cooperation with industrial partners, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Dutch Ministry of Defence, a classification society, the Dutch pilot sector, and the educational institutes Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz, the Shipping and Transport College and Rotterdam Mainport Institute, are all contributing their expertise to this research, according to Marnix Krikke, innovation director at Netherlands Maritime Technology.

“This joint project will bring together both large and small businesses, such as Damen Shipyards, SeaZip Offshore Services and DEKC Maritime,” explains Sanne de Vleeschhouwer, project coordinator at Netherlands Maritime Technology. “It will give the partners insight into the current state of affairs as well as an understanding of the knowledge, skills and technology needed to achieve full autonomy. This will allow them to direct and implement their developments and solutions, each from their own different perspective.”