Autonomous Roboats for Amsterdam’s city canals

This project imagines a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people that can also cooperate to produce temporary floating infrastructure
This project imagines a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people that can also cooperate to produce temporary floating infrastructure

The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) has signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to engage in research collaboration to develop a fleet of autonomous boats for the city’s canals.

AMS will bring together a consortium of public and private partners to tackle complex urban challenges such as water, energy, waste, food, data, and mobility and in addition to MIT will join with the Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research Centre to use Amsterdam as a living laboratory and test bed.

The first project that the consortium will be working on is Roboat, which is an effort to develop a fleet of autonomous boats, or “roboats,” to investigate how urban waterways can be used to improve the city’s function and quality of life. The Roboat project will develop a logistics platform for people and goods, superimposing a dynamic infrastructure over one the world’s most famous water cities.

“This project imagines a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people that can also cooperate to produce temporary floating infrastructure, such as on-demand bridges or stages that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours,” says Carlo Ratti, professor of the practice of urban technologies in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

In addition to infrastructure and transport for the city, Roboat will also deploy environmental sensing to monitor water quality and offer data for assessing and predicting issues related to public health, pollution, and the environment. “By focusing on the water system of the city, Roboat can create opportunities for new environmental sensing methods and climate adaptation. This will help secure the city’s quality of life and lasting functionality,” says Arjan van Timmeren, professor and scientific director at AMS. He envisions a multitude of possibilities for a network of roboats, from real-time sensing of environmental factors to retrieving the 12,000 bicycles or cleaning up the floating waste that ends up in the Dutch city’s canals each year.

It is anticipated that the first prototypes of autonomous boats, or roboats will be ready for testing in Amsterdam in 2018. The project’s initial phase of testing and evaluation will last for five years.

With nearly one-quarter of the city covered by water, Amsterdam is an ideal place for developing Roboat, according to the researchers. The canal system was once the key functional urban infrastructure of the city and today still plays a major role in recreation and tourism. Amsterdam’s waters, including bridges, canals, and the river and its docks, offer plenty of opportunity to help solve current issues with transportation, mobility, and water quality.

By Dag Pike

November 23, 2017 at 05:35PM

Sif shapes Norther monopiles

Sif shapes Norther monopiles

Fabrication of foundations underway for 370MW project

Sif shapes Norther monopiles image


Sif Group has started manufacturing monopile foundations for the 370MW Norther offshore wind farm off the coast of Belgium.

The fabricator said that half of the primary steel for the project’s transition pieces had also been produced at its Roermond factory.

The assembly of “cans and cones” is planned to start at Maasvlakte 2 by the end of November, it added.

The monopiles will be coated and stored at Maasvlakte 2.

Sif said the complete foundations will be ready to be picked up by Van Oord’s installation vessel Aeolus in May next year. 

Sif has a contract to supply 44 monopile foundations for the wind turbines and another monopile for the substation.

It is also tackling the production of primary steel for transition pieces, with Smulders Projects outfitting the kit.

Norther will consist of 44 8.4MW MHI Vestas V164 turbines and is being developed by a joint venture of Eneco, Mitsubishi Corp subsidiary Diamond Generation Europe and Belgium energy company Elicio.

It is scheduled for commissioning in 2019.

Image: Sif Group

November 23, 2017 at 12:31PM

MSC mega container ship collides with vessel off China

The mega container ship ‘MSC Luciana’ has reportedly collided with the Chinese cargo ship ‘Su Lian Hai 0118’, 7 nautical miles off the Port Caofeidian, China on 21 November.

The collision occurred two or three hours after the ‘MSC Luciana’ left Tianjin, heading to Busan, South Korea, according to MaritimeBulletin.

As a result from the accident, ‘Su Lian Hai 0118’ sustained starboard hull breach resulting in water ingress. Local forces sent a search and rescue vessel which towed the ship to a nearby beach. The 16 people onboard the freighter at the time are all reported safe. 

The Panama-flagged MSC Luciana, operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, is said to have suffered minor damage in the collision and was anchored at Caofeidian port. According to latest AIS data, the ship has already sailed for Busan again.

The post MSC mega container ship collides with vessel off China appeared first on SAFETY4SEA.

November 23, 2017 at 11:00AM

Lack of Regulation Hindering Unmanned Ships

UK-headquartered law firm Clyde and Co and UK institute IMarEST have surveyed industry attitudes towards ship automation in a new report.

A survey of 220 marine industry executives worldwide found that there is a lack of clarity on a range of issues around governance of unmanned ships, including collisions and insurance.

Clyde and Company also found industry believes it is unprepared for the new technology.

Nearly two thirds (63%) believe that the industry is not at all prepared in terms of infrastructure requirements for unmanned ships.

Half (51%) think that crews do not currently have the skill sets needed to operate and maintain unmanned ships.

Over two thirds (68%) of survey respondents fear that unmanned ships present a greater cyber-security risk than traditional ships.

Read a related paper from Rolls Royce on how it foresees the future real-time remote monitoring of vessels worldwide impacting reliability of services.

According to International shipping law, vessels must be properly crewed, which means that unmanned ships are not presently permitted to enter international waters.

The International Maritime Organisation announced in June, 2017 that it would begin to consider updating the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea to allow unmanned cargo ships to travel between countries.

The Comité Maritime International (CMI) has also this year established a Working Group on ‘Maritime law for unmanned craft’ to consider how international conventions and regulations can be adapted to provide for the operation of unmanned vessels on the high seas.

The report finds that another key issue is the availability of insurance cover for unmanned ships.

Four of every five (80%) survey respondents think it is unclear how insurers will approach the new technology.

To effect insurance, the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has been discussing the implications of the new technology, and it expects unmanned vessels to change the landscape of the traditional maritime insurance industry.

Patrick Murphy, Partner at Clyde and Co, says: “The current concern for the marine industry is that few insurers are yet in a position where they can advise on how they are approaching insurance cover for unmanned ships.

“This is perhaps unsurprising given the lack of legal framework on which to assess and base liability. Insurers are reacting to new cyber risks, so I would expect them to be able to underwrite risks relating to unmanned ships assuming the liability and regulatory framework can be sorted out.

Walsh comments: “Marine executives are right to be concerned about the potentially increased threat of cyber attack as a result of the use of unmanned ships. 

“However, it is probably worth mentioning that the maritime industry as a whole has been criticised for being a bit slow in reacting to existing cyber threats, including fully crewed vessels and that the biggest threat to any organisation’s cyber-security posture is still, in fact, human error.

“It is therefore possible that   a transition to unmanned ships might actually reduce an organisation’s profile and exposure to cyber risks. The cyber threat should certainly be taken seriously but it should not put the brakes on further exploration of the viability of unmanned ships.”

Joe Walsh, Partner at Clyde and Co, said: “The present state of SOLAS and collision avoidance regulations are being over taken by and holding back potentially industry-changing technology from being developed and implemented.

“Fortunately, the IMO, CMI and other industry interests appear to have recognised that there is a real appetite to test the water with unmanned ships at a commercial level. Industry will quickly need some legal clarity around cyber liability and collision regulations before any ground-breaking progress can be made.”

David Loosley, Chief Executive, IMarEST says: “Technology is today advancing at an unprecedented rate and promises a host of new solutions for the maritime industry in terms of improved efficiency, safety and environmental performance.

“However, we should not be blinded by the benefits.

“We must also remain alert to the potential risks. This joint research report examines these vulnerabilities and how they might be addressed and is an important starting point for the industry to begin preparing for the future.”

Read more: An autonomous work boat, C-Worker 7, has become the first ever unmanned vessel to fly the UK flag.

Automation and Optimisation , Automated Decision Making, Digitalisation, Robotisation, Carriers, Shipping

November 22, 2017 at 12:51PM

MSC Boxship, Chinese Engineering Ship Collide off China

MSC Boxship, Chinese Engineering Ship Collide off China

Image Courtesy: China Rescue and Salvage, Ministry of Transport

Panama-flagged containership MSC Luciana collided with the Chinese engineering vessel Su Lian Hai 0118 off the Port Caofeidian in China on November 21, 2017.

The engineering vessel sustained severe starboard damage resulting in water ingress and putting its crew of 16 members in danger, as informed by China’s Rescue and Salvage Department of Transport Ministry.

The vessel’s hull was ruptured in the collision which resulted in a starboard hole ranging between 2-3 meters in height.

Once at the scene, the rescue service managed to connect a tow line to the stricken vessel and tow the ship to the shallow waters of a nearby beach. The ship’s 16 crew members are all reported to be safe.

The 11,668 TEU MSC boxship, built in 2009, is said to have suffered minor damage in the collision.

Based on the ship’s latest AIS data, it is fully laden and underway using engine, heading toward Pusan where it is expected to arrive on Friday, November 24.

World Maritime News Staff


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November 23, 2017 at 09:14AM

Argentina reports new clue in search for missing submarine

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Ships and planes hunting for a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members will return to a previously search area after officials said Wednesday that a noise made a week ago in the South Atlantic could provide a clue to the vessel’s location.

The Argentina navy spokesman, Capt. Enrique Balbi, said the “hydro-acoustic anomaly” was determined by the United States and specialist agencies to have been produced Nov. 15, just hours after the final contact with the ARA San Juan and could have come from the sub.

The sound originated about 30 miles north of the submarine’s last registered position, he said.

“It’s a noise. We don’t want to speculate” about what caused it, Balbi said.

He said Argentine navy ships as well as a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a Brazilian air force plane would return to the area to check out the clue, even though the area already was searched.

In San Diego, U.S. Navy Lt. Lily Hinz later said the unusual sound detected underwater could not be attributed to marine life or naturally occurring noise in the ocean. She declined to speculate whether it might have been an explosion, saying experts did not know what it was.

“It was not a whale, and it is not a regularly occurring sound,” Hinz said.

On land, relatives of the submarine’s crew grew increasingly distressed as experts said the vessel lost for seven days might be reaching a critical period of low oxygen.

Jorge Villarreal kept his eyes fixed on the ocean, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vessel that carried his son, Fernando Villareal, a submarine officer.

“As a dad I want him to be rescued immediately, but we can’t forget about the inclemency of the weather. And the foreign help just doesn’t come from one day to the next,” he said. “We hope this will go right because of the improving weather and the technology that’s being used.”

The San Juan went missing as it was sailing from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires.

The Argentine navy and outside experts worry that oxygen for the crew would last only seven to 10 days if the sub was intact but submerged. Authorities do not know if the sub rose to the surface to replenish its oxygen supply and charge batteries, which would affect the calculation.

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was scheduled to arrive Monday at the naval base in Mar del Plata, where city residents have been dropping by with messages of support for relatives of the crew.

More than a dozen airplanes and ships are participating in the multinational search despite stormy weather that has caused waves of more than 20 feet (6 meters). Search teams are combing an area of some 185,000 square miles (480,000 square kilometers), which is roughly the size of Spain.

The U.S. government has sent two P-8 Poseidons, a naval research ship, a submarine rescue chamber and sonar-equipped underwater vehicles. U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego-based Undersea Rescue Command are also helping with the search.

President Donald Trump went on Twitter to offer his good wishes to Argentina on Wednesday, though he inflated the number of missing sailors by one.

“I have long given the order to help Argentina with the Search and Rescue mission of their missing submarine. 45 people aboard and not much time left. May God be with them and the people of Argentina!” his tweet said.

Hopes were lifted after brief satellite calls were received and when sounds were detected deep in the South Atlantic. But experts later determined that neither was from the missing sub. A U.S. Navy aircraft later spotted flares and a life raft was found in the search area, but authorities said neither came from the missing submarine.

The false alarms have rattled nerves among distraught family members. Some have begun to complain that the Argentine navy responded too late.

“They took two days to accept help because they minimized the situation,” Federico Ibanez, the brother of submarine crew member Cristian Ibanez, told The Associated Press.

The navy has said the submarine reported a battery failure before it went missing. Authorities have no specific details of the problem.

“I feel like authorities let too much time pass by and decisions were taken late,” Ibanez’s sister, Elena Alfaro, said outside the base. “And yet, I still carry some hope.”


Associated Press writer Almudena Calatrava reported this story in Mar del Plata and AP writer Luis Andres Henao reported from Buenos Aires. AP writer Julie Watson in San Diego and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires and AP video journalist Paul Byrne in Mar del Plata contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

November 23, 2017 at 03:51AM

VIDEO: ABB launches new situational awareness solution

NOVEMBER 21, 2017 — A new situational awareness solution from ABB superimposes a virtual model of the ship on real surroundings, making it possible to see the operation from a third person perspective.

The solution, called ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision, can be used by officers anywhere onboard a ship, taking advantage of the latest advances in sensor technology and computer vision to offer multiple real-time visualizations of a vessel’s surroundings and new ways of perceiving its situation.

The officer can switch between views instantaneously, making it easier to predict vessel motions and be alert to previously hidden obstacles or collision risks. The resulting improvement in situational awareness promises significant benefits for safety and operational efficiency.

"The launch of ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision addresses an important step in the ongoing digitalization of ship operations," says Juha Koskela, Managing Director at ABB Marine & Ports. "This new solution indicates an important landmark in ABB’s digital strategy and offering for our customers."

"Computer vision has advanced significantly in recent years," says Mikko Lepisto, Senior Vice President of Digital Solutions at ABB Marine & Ports. "With this new solution, ABB is leveraging that in order to present the ship and its environment in ways beyond ordinary perception. Crucially, we can do this in real-time in an intuitive fashion, which does not distract the crew from their work. In this sense, Ability Marine Pilot Vision extends the capabilities of the human senses. The solution can easily be installed on conventional vessels to improve situational awareness. What’s more, it enables new shoreside remote services, as well as totally new design options for new vessels, as it provides unrestricted views of the surroundings from any location on board and even on shore."

"ABB believes that the next generations of vessels will be electric, digital and connected," says Koskela. Our recent fuel cell solution launch and ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision give substance to this," Koskela continues. "Ultimately, Vision delivers a completely new user experience in ship operations. It also brings remotely-operated or unmanned ships into clear view. Unmanned ships will be dependent on fault tolerant and reconfigurable critical systems. Fuel cells, energy storage and renewable energy solutions fit perfectly with these targets, without compromising energy efficiency.

November 22, 2017 at 08:16PM

Inmarsat invests in Norwegian technology hub

Inmarsat invests in Norwegian technology hub
Rupert Pearce: "Global maritime is undergoing a period of unprecedented change"

Inmarsat has opened a new office as part of a second core to the Norwegian Maritime Competence centre (NMK) in �lesund, Norway. Inmarsat chief executive Rupert Pearce said this would enable collaboration with innovators in other companies within NMK, such as Rolls-Royce to drive forward digitalisation in maritime industries. 

Its new office will be the heart of Inmarsat�s offices in Norway. It signals Inmarsat�s intention to intensify work with third party service providers and digital disrupters to utilise high-speed broadband via its Fleet Xpress and Certified Applications Provider (CAP) programme.

�Global maritime is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. The connected ship is a catalyst for change and an enabler of digital outcomes,� said Mr Pearce at the opening of the new centre and second phase of the NMK centre.

This maritime hub is home of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) campus and influential Blue Maritime cluster of innovation in Norway. It is also home to a new suite of simulators for NTNU and Offshore Simulator Centre. 

Part of this partnership is with the collaboration with Rolls-Royce to enable the energy management system (EMS) via Fleet Xpress. EMS data is logged in real time so that its management software can optimise operational efficiency via its built-in verifiable reporting capability. 

In this way, Mr Pearce can visualise how broadband can enable better ship and fleet management. �Fleet Xpress enables application-triggered bandwidth, which will be key to converting today�s smart and connected ship into tomorrow�s smart fleet,� he said.

November 22, 2017 at 06:16PM

Off the shelf remote and autonomous workboats

The Sea Machines 300 is an industrial-grade autonomous command and dynamic vessel management system
The Sea Machines 300 is an industrial-grade autonomous command and dynamic vessel management system

Boston, USA-headquartered Sea Machines Robotics has announced a collaboration with European boatbuilder Tuco Marine of Denmark to offer remote and autonomous control products as factory options in their line of ProZero workboats.

Tuco Marine and Sea Machines successfully demonstrated the remote command capability of the Sea Machines 300 technology at Danish Maritime Authority’s “Zooming into Marine Autonomy Conference” in November where they impressed attendees by giving live remote command of the water craft to Danish Minister of Industry Brian Mikkelsen.

Tuco CEO Jonas Pedersen said, “Sea Machines provides technology that enables new methods of optimized operation of our workboats.  We see immediate market opportunities for remote and autonomous operation in offshore surveying, security, dredging and more.  In the spirit of innovation on which we founded Tuco, our collaboration with a cutting-edge technology leader like Sea Machines positions our company for the future state of the industry.”

“A production boat builder offering Sea Machines products is a major step in making remote command and autonomous vessel technology available to commercial operators,” said Sea Machines’ CEO, Michael Johnson. “We are taking the mystery out of marine autonomy by putting the technology forward as a tangible product that is ready to use, and we are pleased to partner with a visionary company like Tuco in our first OEM partnership”.

The Sea Machines 300 is an industrial-grade autonomous command and dynamic vessel management system that readily interfaces with primary and auxiliary vessel systems. The system uses common modern navigation instruments for positioning and perception, including DGPS, AIS, Radar, and camera-based vision. All autonomy system components are mounted in a standardized stainless steel, IP67 electrical enclosure. Rack-mounted configurations are also available.

Supplied with a graphical user interface, branded TALOS, which enables real time local and remote vessel telemetry and data feed as well as navigation route planning.  The system also comes with a remote control industrial joystick. In autonomy mode, the user can plan and execute tasks such as waypoint tracking, search or survey grids, or collaborative tracking of another vessel. The Sea Machines 300 includes a first generation of obstacle and collision avoidance algorithms which abides with IMO’s COLREGs and Rules of the Road for vessel interactions.

The Sea Machines 300 was announced in September 2017, and the company has plans for two more product releases within the next year.

Sea Machines claims its 300 device provides an immediate upgrade to traditional workboat tasks such as bathymetric surveying, seismic support, spill operations, dredging, aquaculture, surveillance, area marking, and escort.

By Jake Frith

November 23, 2017 at 04:39AM

Container ship Mathilde Maersk rescues stranded fishermen

The Mathilde Maersk was on a routine voyage, until a crew member spotted a floating life raft. The five fishermen had been stranded for two days, but thanks to the crew’s skill and quick thinking, all survived, and were reunited with their families.

Container ship Mathilde Maersk rescues stranded fishermen

Imagine being stranded in an inflatable life raft for 2 days in rough seas with dwindling supplies. This was the dire reality for five Hong Kong and Taiwanese fishermen whose fishing boat had sunk two days earlier in the South China Sea. Thanks to the quick thinking of the crew of the Mathilde Maersk and Captain Martin Hansen, these five fishermen have been safely reunited with their families.

It was a routine voyage between Singapore and Yantian for the Mathilde Maersk. But on Friday, the 3rd of November 2017, approximately 170 miles south of Hong Kong, a crew member of the Mathilde Maersk spotted something out of the ordinary – a brightly orange coloured, life raft floating past.

The Mathilde Maersk immediately informed the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre. Suspecting that some of their fellow seafarers were in trouble, the crew of the Mathilde Maersk turned around and headed back to look for the life raft and render assistance.

The occupants of the life raft were in a dangerous situation.

With sunset fast approaching and the persistent rough seas, Captain Martin Hansen, sensed the urgency of the situation. Ordinarily, the Captain would try to get the vessel’s own rescue boat in an optimal position for the rescue but the strong winds and 4-5 meter waves made this impossible.

Captain Hansen, decided it would be safer to maneuver a 399-meter vessel rather than the rescue boat, bobbing in the waves. Considering the winds, waves, vessel dynamics and the safety of the crew of both vessels, Captain Hansen skillfully maneuvered the giant Mathilde Maersk in the perfect position, positioning the life raft right next to the gangway.

“I didn’t think about the difficulty of maneuvering this huge vessel in tough conditions. It was the only option we had. It took some time, but in the end, it was achievable” said Captain Hansen.

Once safely on board, the five fishermen told the crew that due to the rough seas, their engine malfunctioned and therefore they were unable to steer the vessel. Compounding their worrisome situation was the severe waves, which ultimately flooded the engine room, causing their vessel to sink.

“The rescue was a team effort”

After rescuing the fishermen, the crew of the Mathilde Maersk provided medical assistance, food and dry clothes for the seafarers, who were grateful of the support. The fishermen were relieved and happy, but also extremely tired after 48 hours in a life raft in rough seas.

“This rescue was a team effort, where every member of the crew performed their role to the highest standard. Yes, I maneuvered the vessel in position, but the repairman spotted the life raft, the crew prepared the vessel, conducted the rescue safely and successfully and the galley crew provided food and other assistance once the fishermen were on board. I am very proud of my crew” said Captain Hansen.

The five fishermen disembarked safely in Hong Kong a few days later.

Source: Maersk Line

November 22, 2017 at 03:08PM