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  September 30th, 2016 | Written by

NAVTOR Takes Maritime Lead for EU Autonomous Vessel Project

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  • ENABLE was originally proposed by the car industry, before the EU widened its scope.
  • NAVTOR was chosen to represent the maritime sector in EU autonomous transportation efforts.
  • NAVTOR's technology currently connects vessels and shore-based facilities.

NAVTOR is to spend the next three years helping the EU chart a route towards autonomous vessels. The Norwegian firm, a leader in e-navigation technology and services, has been selected to represent the maritime industry in the ENABLE project, conceived to prove, verify, and validate the safety of autonomous vehicles in Europe.

NAVTOR has now received funding to investigate the concept of shore-based bridges, a crucial steppingstone on the path to autonomy.

ENABLE was originally proposed by the car industry, before the EU widened its scope to take in the full spectrum of transport, including ships. NAVTOR was chosen to represent the maritime sector’s efforts due to its expertise and innovation in the field of navigation, planning and monitoring. The firm’s technology currently connects vessels and shore-based facilities worldwide to optimize routes, safety, efficiency, and overall fleet management.

“The shared goal is important for Europe,” said NAVTOR e-navigation project manager Bjørn Åge Hjøllo, “while the expertise we accrue will obviously be of huge benefit to our customers, all of whom can take advantage of key elements of shore-based bridges.”

NAVTOR’s role in ENABLE, which runs through to October 2019, will focus on testing the validity of the software element of a remote bridge concept. This will be built upon continuous data sharing between vessels and land, with key navigation functions migrating from the crew to office-based teams. Shore-based bridges will not be central to the day-to-day operation of autonomous vessels, but will be a vital part of their support infrastructure, allowing those onshore to take charge of individual ships when necessary.

“We believe autonomous vessels will be a reality within the next 10 to 15 years,” said Hjøllo. “Shore-based bridges will be a vital part of realizing that vision.”

NAVTOR launched the initiative with a pre-project meeting for 16 European experts, representing some of Europe’s leading research and development institutions, in its hometown Egersund last month. Other ENABLE participants include IBM, Philips Medical Systems, Renault, Tieto and Siemens.

NAVTOR was established in 2011 and has since grown into a global e-navigation leader, with a network of offices in Norway, Russia, Japan, Sweden, and Singapore. Its product portfolio includes advanced ENC services, publications, weather services, routing, and NavStation, the world’s first digital chart table, integrating all necessary navigation information onto one digital platform, with easy vessel to shore information exchange.