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NAVTOR to lead EU autonomous vessel project

The Norwegian e-navigation technology and services firm will represent the maritime industry in the European Union’s ENABLE project, which aims to study safety issues surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles in the region.

   Norwegian e-navigation technology and services firm NAVTOR will represent the maritime industry in the European Union’s ENABLE project, which aims to study safety issues surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles in the region, the company said today.
   Initially proposed for the automobile industry only, the ENABLE project has since been expanded to include ocean-going vessels as well.
   NAVTOR said it was selected to lead the project’s marine development team based on its expertise in navigation, route planning and optimization, fleet management, and safety.
   The company has received funding to investigate the concept of shore-based bridges, which NAVTOR calls a “crucial steppingstone on the path to autonomy.”
   NAVTOR will work with ENABLE through October 2019, focusing on testing the validity of the software element of the remote bridge concept, which will be built upon continuous data sharing between vessels and people on land, with key navigation functions migrating from the crew to onshore teams.
   NAVTOR e-Navigation Project Manager Bjørn Åge Hjøllo said his firm believes autonomous vessels won’t sound like science fiction much longer, and that shore-based bridges represent a critical step in their evolution.
   “We believe autonomous vessels will be a reality within the next 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Shore-based bridges will be a vital part of realizing that vision. However, before that point, there is work to be done.
   “We can use our expertise with software, monitoring, planning, and the secure transfer of data between vessels as a platform to build upon. Together with actors from sectors such as research institutes and the car industry, which have already made huge leap steps forward in autonomy, we can accelerate the development of safe, reliable and innovative solutions for maritime.”
   NAVTOR last kicked off its participation in the ENABLE program with a pre-project meeting for 16 experts representing some of Europe’s leading research and development institutions, at its headquarters in Egersund, Norway. Fellow ENABLE participants include IBM, Philips Medical Systems, Renault, Tieto and Siemens.

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