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Autonomous ferry ready for operations in Denmark

Date: 30 Dec 2022 Author: Chief Editor

🎯 ShippingLab, Danish innovations R&D platform, announced the readiness of newly developed autonomous ferry (harbour bus) in Denmark. The harbour bus in Aalborg has been named GreenHopper, and it is Denmark’s first autonomous harbour bus prototype. Once it is given permission to perform autonomous sailings in Denmark, it will be sail between the Utzon Center on the Aalborg side of the Limfjord and Stigsborg Brygge on the Nørresundby side. The crossing takes 5-7 minutes, and the harbour bus can carry up to 24 passengers, as well as bicycles and prams.

This R&D project was initiated in 2017 when Professor Mogens Blanke and a team from DTU – Technical University of Denmark met with FORCE Technology and the Danish Maritime Authority to explore what autonomous technology can do for shipping. Now some five years later, there is consequently a driverless harbour sailing around the port in Aalborg. The meeting marked the beginning of a research collaboration known as ShippingLab, which brought together a range of educational institutions, including DTU, the maritime industry and other organizations in their pursuit to develop autonomous technology for use in Danish shipping.

DTU has developed the technology behind GreenHopper’s autonomous control system, and it must be said that waving goodbye to the captain is not an altogether straightforward task. In order to pass other ships and avoid collisions, the control system on board the harbour bus requires inputs from cameras, monitoring systems and a swathe of sensors. All these inputs are handled by AI algorithms.

🤝 In addition to DTU, the project in ShippingLab has had the participation of Logimatic Engineering, Danelec Marine, Tuco Marine, Wärtsilä, SIMAC and the Port of Aalborg. Together, the parties have focused on four main topics: technology, rules & legislation, education & skills, as well as the underlying business model, which is not only about finances, but also about the added value new, highly automated ferries can create.

🎤 “An exciting future awaits in autonomous technologies at sea. Our role has been to link different skills together, so that skilled technology producers have been able to test new solutions in collaboration with the authorities and other relevant parties. The partners have learned a lot through the collaboration, and now we have a vessel that is in a special class both technologically and in terms of safety, and which has both the potential to strengthen the Danish infrastructure and to obtain international approval for export. So we regard GreenHopper as the first shot on a stem that is expected to branch out in the coming years,” says Kjeld Dittmann, the Chairman of ShippingLab.

📃 Source: DTU, ShippingLab
📷 Photo: DTU