In Norway, the MUNIN project has sparked a fascination for and a great interest in autonomous and unmanned ships as the next major revolution in shipping. The interest came up in late 2014 and has only been increasing since then. The latest manifestation of this is the founding of the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS – http://nfas.autonomous-ship.org/, only Norwegian) and immediately before that, the establishment of the autonomous ship testing area in the Trondheim Fjord. The latter event was marked on September 30th, 2016 with a signing ceremony on board the R/V Gunnerus, NTNU’s (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) research ship. The Norwegian Maritime Administration and the Coastal Administration institutes signed the agreement together with representatives from local industry, universities and research.
The NFAS organisation was established on October 4th during a conference in Oslo. The Norwegian Minister of Transport opened the event and keynotes were delivered by the Director General at the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Ms. Kirsten Slotsvik, and Director General of Shipping and Navigation at The Norwegian Maritime Authority, Mr. Olav Akselsen. 39 companies and organisations signed up immediately as members of the forum. MARINTEK, technical coordinator of MUNIN, provides the secretariat for NFAS and was also one of the signatories to the test area agreement.
NFAS welcomes cooperation with similar initiatives in other countries. For more information, contact Mr. Ørnulf Jan Rødseth at MARINTEK.
Last week the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium was held for the first time in Amsterdam. During this three day event, a variety of speakers from industry and academia presented their activities and achievements towards the realization of autonomous vessels in the near future. Openers of the conference have been the two keynotes held by Oskar Levander about Rolls-Royce vision towards autonomous vessels as well as Hans-Christoph Burmeister from Fraunhofer CML, who introduced the audience to the results of the MUNIN project and its views on further promising application areas of maritime autonomous technology. This was then continued by a fruitful plenum discussion including active participation by the ship owner and operator industry.
As one of the originating projects in this area, MUNIN was contributing to the further course of the symposium with three presentations covering cost-benefit aspects, design and navigation challenges, maintenance issues as well as shore support principles. The presentations can be found for download here:
One of the hot topics of this years’ Transport Research Arena 2016 in Warsaw has been automation in transport. According to European Commissioner Violeta Bulc, it is especially due to the expected safety benefits “why autonomous driving is so high on the agenda”. Even though mainly focusing on road and rail transportation, MUNIN got a chance to represent the maritime view on this topic. On Monday, Thomas Porathe from NTNU/Chalmers put the MUNIN results in context with other ongoing European research projects within his scientific presentation about “A navigating navigator onboard or a monitoring operator ashore?”.
On Tuesday, Hans-Christoph Burmeister from Fraunhofer CML discussed then with the Director of the European Commissions’ DG Research and Innovation Ms. Clara De la Torre as well as further experts from rail and road research about “Human Factors, Safety and Acceptability in Automation”, how autonomous systems in all transport modes can become the future and how the interaction between the user and autonomous systems must be taken into account in current research.
Hans-Christoph Burmeister introducing the Plenum into the MUNIN project © Uwe Clausen