NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
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European Space Agency Investigates Satellites for Ships with Autonomous Propulsion
By Seaandcoast | 13/04/2023
The evolution of shipping towards autonomous ships is being supported by the European Space Agency. The agency has partnered with The One Sea Association, a non-profit international organisation with headquarters in Finland that brings together maritime industry manufacturers, integrators, and operators to promote the development of the conditions necessary for an advanced and autonomous maritime transport system.
According to Rita Rinaldo, Chief of Business Applications Projects and Studies Implementation Section at ESA, "ESA is keen to kick-off the job with One Sea Association and its members to enhance the development and adoption of space remedies as enablers of digital and independent shipping, boosting the sustainable transformation of the maritime domain."
According to One Sea, satellite navigation and communications currently play a significant role in the maritime industry and will aid in the adoption of unmanned shipping operations and technology. The group observes that during offshore crossings, ships are frequently farther from shore than satellites. The technology can provide priceless safe and reliable communication channels for the observation, direction, and management of autonomous ships, they claim, drawing attention to the role satellites already serve in shipping.
The One Sea Association's secretary general, Sinikka Hartonen, expressed excitement at the possibility of working with ESA. We are eager to work together to assist the growth of safe and environmentally friendly maritime transportation.
The newly formed cooperation will bring together the technological know-how of ESA with One Sea's expertise in the shipping industry and autonomous shipping. The mission of the space agency is to promote the development and implementation of space solutions that satisfy user demands through the Business Application and Space Solutions programme.
They highlight various scenarios in which space technology could be crucial to autonomous shipping. High-precision Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) offered by satellites is one of the applications they intend to investigate. They believe that PNT will be essential for the safe operation of autonomous shipping, especially in ports and crowded areas.
ESA also revealed last fall that it will support and take part in an unmanned shipping project that would concentrate on berthing and undocking ships. Italian company Grimaldi Group is in charge of the project while partnering with Kongsberg, the Radiolabs Consortium, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Designing, implementing, and validating the berthing aid system under operational circumstances is the aim of the project. In 2024, this project hopes to begin testing onboard ships.