One Sea Partners Up with European Space Agency on Digitalization, Autonomous Ships

One Sea alliance and the European Space Agency (ESA) have decided to collaborate on maritime digitalization and autonomous shipping initiatives.

Image Courtesy: One Sea/ABB

As informed, the industry alliance promoting a common goal of self-guiding shipping and ESA, which comprises 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space, have signed a memorandum of intent covering future collaboration.

The agreement sets out common objectives to encourage the development of space-based applications to analyze, enable and implement maritime digitalization and autonomy using latest generation connectivity.

The One Sea alliance gathers together key stakeholders from the maritime and ICT industries to accelerate the delivery of digitalized solutions to market. It is led by Digital, Internet, Materials & Engineering Co-Creation (DIMECC) ecosystem which has been established to support strategic research, development and innovation.

ESA’s participation aligns with the space agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) Business Applications program which aims at supporting European players in delivering commercial products and services that benefit user communities across a number of vertical domains.

“This is an important statement of intent, through which One Sea and the ESA acknowledge the significance that ongoing digitalisation and autonomy have for the maritime industries,” Jukka Merenluoto, One Sea Lead, commented.

“Expertise from different disciplines is necessary to transform today’s connectivity capabilities for tomorrow’s needs, and this MoI represents a unique opportunity to develop applications and services that leverage assets on the ground and in space,” Merenluoto added.

“We expect that the current initiative, thanks to the engagement of the partners, will foster the emergence of innovative space-based downstream solutions addressing the key challenges of the future maritime and shipping sector,“ Rita Rinaldo, Head of the ESA Institutional Projects Section, commented.

The knowledge-sharing agreement foresees using resources, expertise and facilities belonging to one of the signatories to achieve common goals.

The MoI makes explicit reference to the future use of DIMECC’s Jaakonmeri test area for autonomous vessels – the first dedicated test zone worldwide for autonomous ship technology, located off western Finland. Finnish regulators have authorized One Sea to oversee future trials in the area.

Momentum continues to build for One Sea, as the vehicle best suited to coordinate thinking on shipping’s autonomous future. Members ABB, Kongsberg Maritime and Wärtsilä ran separate autonomous ship trials off the Finnish and Norwegian coasts at the end of 2018.

Last month, three global maritime sector influencers joined the One Sea alliance, after satellite group Inmarsat and NYK Group research subsidiary Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI) became full members and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) signed up as an associate member.

Related: Baby Steps Key for Creating Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem