Automated Ships Ltd.,(a subsidiary of M Subs) and Kongsberg have signed an MoU to build the world’s first full-size unmanned and fully-automated vessel for offshore operations. The British company will contract the offshore vessel Hrönn in January 2017, to be built in Norway and be in operation by 2018.
The impediments to the operation of large unmanned vessels are largely regulatory: the intended participation of Norwegian regulators and authorities in the Hrönn programme will contribute significantly to its ability to be first to market, rapidly and at relatively low cost. The parallel with the UAS market is obvious – military authorities will watch this development closely, in just the same manner as they have been observing (and contributing to) efforts to integrate UAS into national airspace.
"The advantages of unmanned ships are manifold, but primarily centre on the safe guarding of life and reduction in the cost of production and operations; removing people from the hazardous environment of at-sea operations and re-employing them on-shore to monitor and operate robotic vessels remotely, along with the significantly decreased cost in constructing ships, will revolutionise the marine industry. Automated Ships Ltd will be at the forefront of that revolution, along with its many Norwegian partners," said Managing Director Brett A. Phaneuf of Automated Ships Ltd.
Hrönn will initially operate in man-in-the-loop remote control mode, but will transition to fully autonomous operations as the pertinent control algorithms are developed and refined.