The Port of Rotterdam Authority has begun tests on autonomous navigation with a floating lab as it aims to increase safety and accessibility at the port.
The floating lab is a former patrol vessel (RPA3) equipped with cameras, sensors and measurement equipment to obtain data on weather and water conditions and the vessel’s operation, power and engine.
The port authority has signed a partnership agreement with a start-up in software development, Captain AI, which will add artificial intelligence to the data from the floating lab.
Captain AI’s CEO and co-founder Vincent Wegener explained: “In this way, we can teach computers to navigate independently through the port and we can train the first artificial captains.”
In addition to testing automatic navigation, the floating lab will test other applications such as the use of cameras for automatic inspections of quay walls or detection of objects in the water.
The port authority will also investigate the combination of sensors on the water with land-based sensors to develop a network and smart infrastructure.
Data from the floating lab will be made available to the business community and education as the port authority aims to further the research into autonomous navigation.
Ronald Paul, Port of Rotterdam Authority COO, said: “By cooperating with other parties, including by making our data available, we aim to promote the development of new technologies and investigate the impact of these on port and port facilities.
“We expect the arrival of autonomous navigation to further increase the safety and accessibility of the Port of Rotterdam and, moreover, it will be an effective aid for skippers and shipping traffic controllers.”