World’s first test area for autonomous ships opened

  • Published: 03/10/2016

Norwegian Maritime Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration have signed an agreement which allows for testing of autonomous ships in the Trondheim fjord. –We do not yet know how widespread autonomy will be in future shipping, but for the Norwegian Maritime Authority, it is imperative to be a central participant in this development, says Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Mr Olav Akselsen.

Picture shows signing of agreement
Director General Olav Akselsen (right) signs the cooperation agreement on test areas for autonomous ships together with Director Arve Dimmen of the Norwegian Coastal Administration.
PHOTO: Kari Stautland/Sjøfartsdirektoratet

The Trondheim fjord will be the first designated test area in the world for autonomous (unmanned) ships. So far, there has only been test areas for autonomous cars.  NTNU, Kongsberg Seatex, Kongsberg Maritime, MARINTEK and Maritime Robotics have in cooperation with Trondheim Harbour and the Norwegian Maritime Authority, taken this initiative. After the signing of the agreement last week, NTNU and Sintef will start using the area for testing.  

- There are a lot of exciting things happening in the shipping industry nowadays, both within autonomy and within new environmentally friendly solutions. The Norwegian Maritime Authority is an important partner for those who deal in innovation. We wish to cooperate with the industry so that we can be leading in the development of rules and regulations that take into consideration the new technical solutions, says Akselsen.

Live demonstration of autonomy

After the agreement was signed in Trondheim, the guests were give a live demonstration of unmanned ships. A meeting situation between the NTNU-vessel “Gunnerus”, and an autonomous ship demonstrated the principles of autonomy.

The Director General points out that this will also be important for Norway as a maritime nation and that it may be of significance to the future maritime industry. Already next week, the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS) will be established – a forum which is brought about at the initiative of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Norwegian Industry and MARINTEK. Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, will carry out the official opening of the NFAS.

- Both today’s happening and next week’s establishment of the NFAS demonstrate that Norway has already taken the lead in maritime autonomy. This gives us a head start that in the long run may come to mean a lot for both Norway as a nation as well as for the Norwegian maritime industry, the Director General points out.

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