Maritime autonomy pioneer Kongsberg has announced that an official autonomous shipping test-bed is now open in the coastal town of Horten in Norway to support the development of autonomous maritime operations.
Building on Norway’s leading position within the burgeoning autonomous shipping segment, the test-bed is the third of its kind in the country and only the fourth such approved area in the world.
‘Yara Birkeland’, an autonomous and fully electric containership prototype, has already tested the water after going through trials at SINTEF Ocean's 80-metre test tank facility in Trondheim, Norway, in October.
The new area is open to both Norwegian and international organizations, and is designed to be a convenient, safe, non-congested space to trial new technology and vessels.
It is specially designated for autonomous trials by the Norwegian Maritime Administration and the Norwegian Coastal Administration.
Kongsberg has worked closely with the town of Horten, DNV GL, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment — FFI and the University College of South East Norway, to establish the new test-bed, which is situated adjacent to Kongsberg Maritime’s Horten facility.
Its introduction follows the opening of the world’s first autonomous shipping test-bed in September 2016, which was supported by Kongsberg and located on the Trondheimsfjord in Norway.
The test-beds in Trondheim and Horten are a valuable resource for Kongsberg’s on-going development of technology for ground-breaking projects such as the YARA Birkeland all electric, autonomous container ship, the Hrönn, the autonomous offshore support vessel and marine robotics technology.
Yara Birkeland is a collaboration between the environment-focused Norwegian agricultural company Yara, global maritime technology firm Kongsberg, DNV GL, Marin Teknikk, SINTEF Ocean and Norwegian maritime authorities
These and other autonomous vessel projects are set to transform many aspects of shipping and offshore operations, by introducing safer, more environmentally friendly and cost-effective modes of transport and working at sea.
Kongsberg’s use of the fjord at Horten for safe autonomous vessel testing during 2017 has been integral to the area receiving its official status as a test-bed.
In August, Kongsberg and FFI demonstrated high-speed autonomous obstacle avoidance using the ODIN Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) fitted with the cutting-edge K-Mate autonomy controller solution (video below).
Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, said: “With critical developments in maritime autonomy technology and software taking place at Kongsberg Maritime in Horten, the location of the new test-bed will support a number 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 organizations developing the rules that will allow them to operate.”