Autonomous Shipping Project to Trial Sensor Technology


The Finnish Geospatial Research Institute and Aalto University will partner with maritime solution providers Fleetrange and Tallink Grupp on a project to develop autonomous shipping.

Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the goal of the joint-venture is to develop techniques for safe navigation using a combination of different sensors, machine learning tools and artificial intelligence (AI).

According to a statement, the technology will combine data from visual images, environmental sound recordings and satellite navigation, as well as systems such as RADAR and LiDAR ranging.

Yang Zhou and Xavier Bellsolà Olba discuss the importance of safety and nautical traffic in a recent Port Technology technical paper

The sensors used to collect this data will be installed on Tallink Grupp’s “Megastar” cruise vessel for a trial run, during which data processing will be performed using innovative AI and machine learning software.

The aim of the project is to create a system that automatically identifies and recognizes objects, such as navigation aids and other vessels around the ship, improving situational awareness.

Dr. Sarang Thombre, Research Manager at the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, commented: “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.

“When such information is combined with established vessel navigation rules and regulations, it can potentially enable the vessel to navigate with minimal human guidance even in dense traffic conditions of the Baltic Sea.”

Dr. Simo Särkkä, Professor of Aalto University, added: “The recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning allow for new ways to learn to identify and predict the movement of vessels, with a better accuracy that has been possible before.”

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