EU Awards $22M Grant for Kongsberg-Led Autonomous Vessel Project

Illustration courtesy Kongsberg

Published Jan 21, 2020 7:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

A consortium led by Kongsberg and SINTEF has won a $22 million EU grant for a long-term test of autonomous vessel technology. Over the course of the project, two vessels will be fitted with autonomous navigation systems and trialled for use in short sea coastal and inland shipping applications. 

The aim of the project is to test and refine shipboard systems for autonomous navigation, self-diagnostics, prognostics, operation scheduling and telecommunications. It will also provide a demonstration of the capabilities of the latest autonomous technology.

"We will demonstrate that it is possible to remotely operate several ships from land and over large geographical areas. The technology is used in different ways on the vessel to show that the solutions can be applied widely. This is a market with a significant potential," said Egil Haugsdal, CEO of Kongsberg Maritime, in a statement released Tuesday. 

The project, dubbed AUTOSHIP, is a collaboration between Kongsberg and Norwegian research organization SINTEF, along with several European partners. The Research Council of Norway is also providing support.

“The [AUTOSHIP] project now receives one of the largest allocations from the EU's Horizon 2020 program to a Norwegian player ever. This is a [$22 million] mark of quality," said Iselin Nybø, Norway's minister of research and higher education. 

The two vessels selected for the project are the fish-feed carrier Eidsvaag Pioneer, which supplies fish farms along the Norwegian coastline, and a self-powered barge operated by Blue Line Logistics NV on Europe's inland canal system. 

"There is increasing market demand for waterborne transport in the EU. The results of the AUTOSHIP project will lead to safer and greener transport in Europe with one of the major outcomes being a shift of goods transport from roads to waterways," said Haugsdal.