Aker Arctic Tests Autonomous Ship Model
A Finnish engineering firm known for its ice-going vessel expertise says it is studying another area of ship technology: autonomous vessel operations.
Aker Arctic says it recently successfully tested an autonomous ship model at its ice model test laboratory in Helsinki.
The test, which was carried out in ice-free waters, demonstrated the ship model’s ability to detect obstacles in the tank utilizing onboard sensors, maneuver around them without operator input and moor itself automatically to a target pier.
While Aker Arctic’s ice laboratory is normally used to test model icebreaking vessels, it can also serve as a facility to develop and test the technology, sensors, algorithms and propulsion control systems being developed for autonomous vessels under harsh environmental conditions.
The wireless model used in the test is equipped with battery powered propulsion units, data transfer to the “shore facility”, and an autonomous navigation system that routes the vessel around obstacles detected by the onboard sensors.
The various components are connected using Distributed Intelligent Vessel Components (DIVEC), a specially developed network framework that provides a modern protocol for connecting devices and transferring necessary data between them. DIVEC provides an extensible and adaptable infrastructure that allows interfacing with third-party systems and components.
The technology used in the lab model tests is adaptable to semi and full-scale prototypes. With this technology, Aker Arctic says it is ready for the next step in the development of autonomous ships.