UK-based Automated Ships has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Norway's Kongsberg Maritime to jointly construct the world’s first fully-automated unmanned ship, Hrönn, for offshore operations.
Under the new MoU, Automated Ships will act as the primary integrator, project manager and ship-owner of the new fully automated and unmanned ship designed for commercial use.
Kongsberg will provide all major marine equipment necessary for the design, construction and operation of Hrönn, which will be contracted by Automated Ships in January next year.
After the contract, the light-duty, offshore vessel will be re-designed and built at Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand, by Automated Ships in collaboration with Kongsberg.
Sea trials of the new vessel are scheduled to be carried out in Norway's newly designated automated vessel test bed in the Trondheim fjord, and will be conducted under the supervision of DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).
Following the trial, Hrönn will be classed and flagged.
Automated Ships managing director Brett Phaneuf said: "The advantages of unmanned ships are manifold, but primarily centre on the safe guarding of life and reduction in the cost of production and operations; removing people from the hazardous environment of at-sea operations and re-employing them on-shore to monitor and operate robotic vessels remotely, along with the significantly decreased cost in constructing ships, will revolutionise the marine industry.
“Automated Ships Ltd will be at the forefront of that revolution, along with its many Norwegian partners."
Kongsberg said that Hrönn is currently serving the offshore energy, scientific / hydrographic, and offshore fish-farming industries.
Once redesigned, the ship will initially operate and function as a remotely piloted ship, in man-in-the-loop control mode, but will transition to a fully automated, and for autonomous operations in near future.
Image: Artists impression of Hrönn vessel. Photo: courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime.