Executive Briefings

Europe Research Center Tests Autopilot System for Autonomous Ships

VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland has developed an autopilot system for remotely monitored, autonomous ships that is capable of taking evasive action according to International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

The Apilot autopilot, undergoing testing by VTT, has three modes: track, heading and slow joystick control - used for docking situations.

In 'track mode', Apilot steers the ship along a previously agreed route. If the ship detects another vessel, which must be avoided, the autopilot switches to 'heading mode'. This enables Apilot to avoid the other vessel with a small change in the ship's heading. Autopilot returns to track mode after the other vessel has been avoided.

In 'joystick mode', control and propulsion equipment are adjusted for low speeds maneuverings. Apilot puts the ship into the desired operating mode, for example to maneuver sideways into a dock.

In all situations, the autopilot ensures that the ship remains within a set distance from the planned route. If these limits are exceeded, the autopilot gives a warning and remote control must be taken of the ship.

The researchers have connected the system to a simulator that models ship traffic. Two scenarios in the Helsinki sea area have been prepared to demonstrate different passing conditions and docking maneuvers.

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The Apilot autopilot, undergoing testing by VTT, has three modes: track, heading and slow joystick control - used for docking situations.

In 'track mode', Apilot steers the ship along a previously agreed route. If the ship detects another vessel, which must be avoided, the autopilot switches to 'heading mode'. This enables Apilot to avoid the other vessel with a small change in the ship's heading. Autopilot returns to track mode after the other vessel has been avoided.

In 'joystick mode', control and propulsion equipment are adjusted for low speeds maneuverings. Apilot puts the ship into the desired operating mode, for example to maneuver sideways into a dock.

In all situations, the autopilot ensures that the ship remains within a set distance from the planned route. If these limits are exceeded, the autopilot gives a warning and remote control must be taken of the ship.

The researchers have connected the system to a simulator that models ship traffic. Two scenarios in the Helsinki sea area have been prepared to demonstrate different passing conditions and docking maneuvers.

Read Full Article