Estonia-based shipping company Tallink Grupp is set to form a partnership with Fleetrange, researchers from the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) and Aalto University to develop autonomous ship navigation techniques.
Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the research project is expected to develop autonomous shipping solutions that offer safety at sea.
As part of the ‘Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning Sensor Fusion for Autonomous Vessel Navigation (Maritime AI-NAV) project’, the researchers are expected to use a variety of sensors, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Researchers will also integrate data from visual images, environmental sound recordings, RADAR and LiDAR ranging, satellite navigation, as well as vessel transponders.
They will install these sensors on Tallink Grupp’s Megastar ship and will process the collected data using new artificial intelligence and machine learning software.
Maritime AI-NAV aims to develop solutions that can automatically identify and spot objects, including navigation aids and other vessels around the ship.
New solutions will be designed to provide advanced situational awareness data through sensor fusion.
Finnish Geospatial Research Institute research manager Dr Sarang Thombre said: “A single sensor is never sufficient for providing complete safety-critical information to the crew.
“They always refer to multiple devices providing overlapping information so that defects in any one device can be easily identified and excluded. An autonomous navigation system should work on a similar principle.”
FGI previously developed sensor and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) solutions, as well as safety-driven ice-aware e-Navigation methods.
Fleetrange CEO and founder Henrik Ramm-Schmidt said: “Tallink is the frontrunner in innovative new solutions and the Megastar is the most advanced and environmentally friendly ferry in this area.
“The traffic area between Tallinn and Helsinki is also highly dense with both commercial vessels and leisure boats, and provides an excellent testing ground for the new techniques we aim to study.”