Digitization in shipping is advancing rapidly, primarily driven by the pursuit of greater efficiency and process improvements along the entire maritime transport chain. In the future of automated or even autonomous ships, safety-related aspects are of utmost importance. Intelligent assistance systems are milestones on the way toward the autonomous ship. Better information and decision support reduce the risk of human error and accidents, offering advantages for shipowners long before autonomous ships really come into view.
Raytheon Anschütz, a business of Raytheon Technologies, works on the GALILEOnautic2 (GN2) research project to develop solutions for highly automated navigation in narrow channels and port areas and for optimized ship control during berthing and unberthing maneoeuvres.
“It was an exciting moment when we first boarded the vessel with our equipment,” says Wilko Bruhn, who is responsible for research projects at Raytheon Anschütz. “A series of sea trials had to be canceled due to the pandemic, but finally we were able to conduct a large and successful test campaign at sea.”
Raytheon Anschütz supports the GN2 sea trials with a custom-fitted ISO container with a fully mobile bridge inside. The container interfaces with the existing ship sensors and actors on board.
The mobile bridge runs the most recent software version of the Synapsis NX integrated navigation system, but it augments with additional and project-specific enhancements. These include the processing and display of near-field sensor systems, detailed maneoeuvre plans, and optimized trajectories, and allow for human interaction. This overall setup enables the creation of a comprehensive situation picture and the execution of highly automated maneoeuvres.
The test campaign aboard R/V “Deneb” serves a number of purposes, including integration and communication test procedures, standardized maneuvering tests, and analysis of sensors for the direct vicinity of the vessel, and data fusion with conventional sensors.
“The successful performance of the test campaign means great progress toward a modular system for safe and precise ship handling at different automation levels,” Bruhn says. “This is intended to verify, validate and demonstrate the potential of intelligent navigational assistance functions.”
The GN2 team is now looking forward to additional sea trials in August, and for a final demonstration that will mark the project’s completion in September.
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