26.06.2017 change 14.11.2017

A unique system will be created to help ships avoid collisions at sea

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Unique technology that will help ships avoid collisions with other ships, whales or drifting objects will be developed in a joint project launched by specialists from Białystok, Iława and Szczecin.

The project "AVAL" received over PLN 9.2 million in EU funding from the Smart Growth program. The funds have been granted by the National Centre for Research and Development. The agreement is already signed - told PAP Dr. Jolanta Koszelew, from the Faculty of Computer Science of Bialystok University of Technology.

Bialystok University of Technology is the leader of the project implemented jointly with the Foundation for Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in Iława and the companies UpLogic from Białystok and Sup4NAV from Szczecin.

"AVAL" is an acronym for the English name "Autonomous Vessel with an Air Look". According to Jolanta Koszelew, it is an innovative maritime navigation technology, which in various situations involving a threat of collision at sea will help select a safe route using various sources of information, including a drone with a camera that will watch the area around the ship.

"Contemporary navigators design so-called anti-collision manoeuvres in dangerous situations based on navigational data and visual observations, taking into account bathymetric conditions (maps). But such observations often prove insufficient. Navigator may fail to see certain dangerous objects from the bridge, like drifting icebergs, whales or containers that fell from another vessel" - explained Dr. Koszelew. Such dangers may, however, be spotted with a camera on a drone hovering above the ship - she added.

Researchers working on the project will develop a special observation drone adapted to work in the most difficult weather conditions at sea. It will be capable of taking off from and landing on a moving vessel. "This task will be carried out by scientists from Bialystok University of Technology. Dangerous objects will be identified in the image recorded by the drone by the image processing system developed by the UpLogic team" - said Koszelew.

Ecperts from Sup4Nav will work on using "anti-collision" information identified by the system in navigation and integrating it with the autopilot.

"Sup4Nav is the only Polish company that has experience in the design and manufacture of expert navigation systems. All components of the AVAL technology will be tested in Iława at the Ship Handling Research and Training Centre of the Foundation for Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection, one of the few centres in the world where you can manoeuvre ship models" - Koszelew informed.

Real-life tests will be conducted on Polish Steamship Company ferries.

"+AVAL+ is a milestone on the way to autonomous sea ships. The technology will reduce the risk of a collision, and in the long run it will make it possible for the crew to work remotely" - Koszelew emphasised. She added that the technology will be designed to accommodate different shipbuilders\' needs.

The "AVAL" technology is expected to be ready in 2021. The total value of the project exceeds PLN 10.3 million. Koszelew reported that the National Centre for Research and Development had funded the project as "an ambitious project of a Polish consortium for a groundbreaking innovation that will change the global maritime transport market". (PAP)

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