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Project to research collision avoidance for automated ships

The Department of Engineering Cybernetics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is leading a new Knowledge-Building Project for Industry that will study collision avoidance for advanced ships.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The AUTOSEA project is sponsored by the Research Council of Norway, with DNV GL, Kongsberg Maritime and Maritime Robotics as industry partners.

The project intends to focus on automated situation awareness using sensor fusion to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and vehicles when an increased level of autonomy is introduced.

To improve detection capabilities for small and close-range objects, the AUTOSEA project will, in addition to conventional maritime radar, include sensor types not normally used for such purposes in the shipping sector, like cameras, infrared technology and LIDAR.

The project partners note that, for the systems to be successful, it will be necessary to resolve conflicts between sensors, and to interpret and support decisions in situations of ambiguity. An increased degree of autonomy for oceangoing vehicles also needs to comply with the COLREGs.

"The last decade has witnessed a substantial progress towards increased autonomy both for land vehicles, aerial vehicles, and underwater vehicles. However, ocean surface vehicles represent a different context and more complex challenges that requires substantial research," said Edmund Brekke, associate professor at the NTNU’s Department of Engineering Cybernetics.

"The primary objective of the research project is to gain competence and knowledge of multi-sensor data fusion, in order to provide a solid foundation for the qualification of autonomous marine technology."

The project is divided into four areas: sensor fusion, collision avoidance, system architecture, and experiments. Sensor fusion involves detection and tracking of moving objects during navigation and manoeuvring using imaging sensors, while collision avoidance will investigate both proactive and reactive methods of staying out of harm's way.

The system architecture will consider reliability, handling of erroneous data and adaptation of strategies from the automotive and aerospace industries. Experiments will be used to validate and demonstrate COLREGs-compliant navigation and control, and to assess detection capabilities using different sensors.{/mprestriction}

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