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MASSPorts initiative launched to develop autonomous shipping

Representatives from China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, and Singapore have launched the MASSPorts initiative to collaborate on and develop Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) in ports.

The network aims to develop detailed guidelines and conditions for MASS trials in port, establish common terminology, form and standards of communication, ship reporting and data exchange to enhance inter-operability of systems across different ports.

“Autonomous navigation is an important part of our plans to be a future-ready port. We see MASS having the potential to enhance navigational safety and increase productivity,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

“We are glad to work with like-minded international partners who are aligned in shaping the future of the international shipping.”

Members of MASSPorts include:

  • China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA)
  • Danish Maritime Authority (DMA)
  • IMO High-Level Representative of Ministry of Transport and Communications, Finland
  • Maritime Bureau, Ports and Harbours Bureau, Japan Coast Guard, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)
  • Port of Rotterdam Authority (POR)
  • Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA)
  • Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA)
  • Smart Shipping & Logistics Division of the Minister of Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea
  • Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)

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    Lloyd's Register (LR) and the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have teamed up to collaborate on marine autonomy projects to ensure that appropriate levels of service and competence can be achieved within the maritime industry.

    As part of the framework agreement, the two organisations will collectively establish and enhance the current body of knowledge for marine autonomy. This combination of skills, expertise and experience will be built on to bring clarity to the requirements for the assurance of autonomy and assist stakeholders in realising the potential of these systems in the market.

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    By partnering with NPL, LR will enhance the delivery of its services and assurance in marine autonomy and gain access to a wide range of knowledge and expertise developed in other aligned domains.

    LR and NPL are currently working together to deliver a scope of services to the THEMIS Project, to demonstrate the feasibility for the world’s largest ocean-going autonomous vessel, which is part funded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) fund.

    NPL’s head of Digital, Neil Stansfield, said: “The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is excited by the opportunities presented in this collaboration with Lloyd’s Register, where the two organisations complementary capabilities are well suited to addressing the challenge of assuring marine autonomous systems. This work represents an important part of the UK’s national programme to deliver confidence in the intelligent and effective use of data, which is being conducted with a range of partners across sectors and with a specific focus on autonomous systems. NPL is applying a combination of measurement skills, expertise and experience, in areas as diverse as sensor characterisation, data quality and AI validation, to support partners in the development of new tests, standards and regulations for the safety of autonomous systems. This collaboration with Lloyd’s Register will help ensure the UK maintains its global leadership in the marine services Sector, where the autonomous shipping sector is expected to represent a global $52bn market opportunity by 2050.”

    Tim Kent, LR technical director for Marine and Offshore said: “This collaboration with the NPL will allow LR to improve our own processes, knowledge and competency to better support our clients with marine autonomy projects. We are delighted to be partnering with NPL given its domain knowledge on autonomy from the connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) domains.”

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    A year-long study sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) says that the United Kingdom (UK) should create a “hybrid system” of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) capability to ensure uninterrupted maritime commerce and protect its critical infrastructure. The 1,174 page report concludes that a combination of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), eLoran, and the short range R-mode VDES, is needed for maritime navigation. These would also benefit other critical national infrastructures. It also recommends local positioning systems such as LOCATA for port operations.

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