Information published on 25 October 2016 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 520.

Finland: Testing of intelligent fairways, scheduled to begin next year, will pave way for autonomous ships

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The Finnish Transport Agency will start testing intelligent fairways at the beginning of 2017. Intelligent fairways are able to inform mariners about the prevailing conditions and vessel movements in the fairway. Several fairways along the Finnish coast will be used as test platforms.

Finland’s main objective is to make navigation safer and more efficient. In order to reach this goal, the Finnish Transport Agency will start testing intelligent fairways at the beginning of next year.

The latest weather reports and forecasts will be transmitted directly to the navigation bridge systems of vessels approaching an intelligent fairway. Moreover, the aids to navigation in the intelligent fairways will adapt to the conditions and vessel movements in the fairway.

“Finland is a forerunner of digital vessel services”, said Ms Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland. “We will do our best to stay at the forefront of the digitalisation development.” "We have invested in good communication links, information security, open data access, and we want to ensure, among other things, that interactive ecosystems promoting intelligent robotics and automation are created in Finland."

“Testing of intelligent fairways is a great leap towards autonomous vessel traffic, based on intelligent automation. In my view, intelligent automation is the key to enhancing maritime safety, reducing emissions and improving productivity”, said Minister Berner.

Smarter and safer vessel traffic in intelligent fairways

The tests combine real-time water level data and forecasts with a precise three-dimensional model of the seabed. This data makes it possible to plan the loading of the vessel to fit the prevailing conditions. This enables loading of more cargo at high water, which improves transport efficiency.

These tests also use vessel data. When the shape of the seabed, the relative depths and the ship characteristics are known, it is possible to estimate vessel behaviour in the prevailing or forecasted conditions.

In the two years running up to the tests, the applications and depth models required for data collection have been developed. The data transfer between vessels and vessel traffic services has also been improved.

The testing of the intelligent fairways starts at the beginning of 2017 and takes two years. The tests will include testing and piloting of the digital services and real-time situational pictures in both the vessel’s own systems and in the systems used by the Vessel Traffic Services.

(Source: Finnish Transport Agency)