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  October 27th, 2016 | Written by

Danish Maritime Authority Embarks on Unmanned Ship Venture

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  • The Danish Maritime Authority is launching a pre-study on autonomous ships.
  • Technical University of Denmark is participating in Danish unmanned ship project.
  • The Danish Maritime Authority wants to carry out wide cooperation on the development of masterless ships.

The technology for unmanned ships is coming, but it is not yet known precisely where, when and to which extent. However, now a step is being taken in that direction as the Danish Maritime Authority together with the Technical University of Denmark is initiating a pre-study on autonomous ships.

The project’s purpose is to increase the knowledge base and to set the preliminary frames so that the development and use of unmanned ships can come about in an appropriate manner.

“In the short term, the technology can be used to make our ships safer and more efficient,” said Troels Lund Poulsen, Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth. “In the longer term, research in autonomous ships may become a great advantage for Blue Denmark. The global maritime sector is faced with a number of challenges and this technology could turn out to be part of the solution.”

The vision of masterless or autonomous ships is not new. But now the development of software systems with much data power as well as developments in robot technology and self-propelled cars has made masterless ships of great immediate interest. The potential of autonomous ships is great, in terms of automation of ship operations, reduction of ship operation costs, safer and more reliable ship operation and increased energy efficiency.

These are all important factors where Blue Denmark—as the country calls its ocean shipping industry—can use its strength positions within new technology, thus contributing to acquiring competitive advantages. The Danish Maritime Authority now wants to get better knowledge in this area.

The planned pre-study will be carried out under the DTU project on research-based maritime consultancy which is financed by the Danish Maritime Fund. The purpose of the pre-study is to ensure that a Danish definition of what the concept actually covers and to propose how to develop useful, functional projects capable of contributing to the sector both in terms of technology and economy.

The Danish Maritime Authority wants to carry out a wide cooperation project on the development of masterless ships, which is based on the positions of strength of Blue Denmark within shipping, safety and the environment, energy efficiency, technology development and maritime competences.

Several projects on autonomous ships have already been completed, such as the EU-financed MUNIN project and several projects driven by the industry in, for example, Finland. At present, Norway and England have established each their own cooperation forum with the participation of a number of authority and industry partners. Norway has just launched a test area for autonomous ships at Trondheim.