First Test Area for Autonomous Ships Opened in Finland

The first test area for projects related to autonomous shipping has been opened in Finland. 

As informed, the test area is the first one in the world to be globally open to anyone wishing to test autonomous maritime traffic, vessels, or technologies related to it.

The test area, to be named Jaakonmeri Test Area, is managed and controlled by DIMECC, the co-creation company leading e.g. the One Sea – Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem.

The Jaakonmeri Test Area is located on the Finnish west coast outside the municipality of Eurajoki. The longest side of the area to the north is approximately 17.85 km long and the western side 7.10 km. The test area will have “excellent” data connectivity available, according to DIMECC.

Awarded by a Finnish Government Bureau, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of Southwest Finland, the test area is open water and offers opportunities to test also in ice conditions during the winter.

The Finnish government is strongly committed towards a digital future, which can be seen in the decision to establish this test area. According to Anne Berner, Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications: “promotion of digitalization and extensive utilization of automation and information are the driving forces of the government key projects.”  The government has invested in intelligent fairways and the closest one is near the test area, on the fairway to Rauma.

Companies, research institutes and others wishing to run tests on the area, can contact DIMECC through the One Sea website.

DIMECC is already in discussions about the first tests. The first tests are expected to be started in the spring of 2018. However, it is possible to initiate testing earlier, if there are actors that wish to start testing already in 2017.

As explained, extensive testing is the prerequisite for safe and successful autonomous traffic. This has been identified as a crucial step, in the roadmaps generated in One Sea. Opening a test area to all the actors developing maritime autonomy will speed up the process globally and enable proof of concept for the commercial applications in this field.

The One Sea ecosystem, founded in 2016, represents co-creation where parties from different industries work to reach their joint goal of autonomous traffic. The founding partners in the One Sea – Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem are ABB, Cargotec (MacGregor and Kalmar), Ericsson, Meyer Turku, Rolls-Royce, Tieto and Wärtsilä. In addition, the association of Finnish Marine Industries supports the work, and the Finnish funding agency TEKES has invested in the ecosystem.