Norway opens new test-bed for autonomous vessels

Developments in autonomous shipping is now accelerating even further in Norway with the opening of another test-bed, informs Kongsberg, which is participating in several unmanned projects.

Photo: PR-foto/Rolls-Royce

Norway is now opening a new test-bed for sailing with autonomous vessels.

The country's maritime authorities Norwegian Maritime Administration and the Norwegian Coastal Administration have designated the new area in Oslofjord by Horten, which opened Wednesday this week for Norwegian and international organizations to test the technology, says Kongsberg in a press release.

The move towards greater autonomy at sea has the potential to transform maritime operations"

Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime
Kongsberg along with several other players have been calling for a test-bed area in this location, as it is, among other factors, located close to Kongsberg Maritime's facilities in Horten.

The Norwegian company is involved in several projects related to autonomous shipping this year, and Kongsberg's collaboration with fertilizer producer Yara Birkeland has drawn several headlines. Kongsberg is also working on an autonomous offshore vessel.

According to Kongsberg, the location of the new test area will benefit a series of "ground-breaking technology projects."

"The move towards greater autonomy at sea has the potential to transform maritime operations and while the technology has now been proven, we look towards the regulations. Establishment of these test-beds are an important step, as it shows close co-operation between the people making the technology and vessels and the organisations developing the rules that will allow them to operate," says Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, in the press release.

Denmark also in the race

Kongsberg has been working with the city of Horten, DNV GL, University College of South East Norway and the country's military research unit Forsvarets forskningsinstitut (FFI) to have the test-bed located here.

The first test area was opened in Norway in September 2016, in Trondheimsfjord, and the new test-bed in Horten marks the third such area in Norway, and just the fourth in the world.

While Norway is already highly active in the field, the country's neighbor, Denmark, also has major ambitions of becoming a leading force in autonomous shipping. Denmark's minister for business and growth, Brian Mikkelsen, recently told ShippingWatch that the plan is still to open test-beds, and that the ministry is in talks with local authorities as part of the efforts to find a location.

Other autonomous shipping projects include Maersk's Svitzer, which is working with Rolls-Royce to develop a remote-controlled tug - a project that was showcased in the Port of Copenhagen in November.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

Svitzer still exploring the benefits of autonomous sailing 

See Maersk's first autonomous ship in action 

Rolls-Royce in talks to divest part of its maritime business 

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