Autonomous shipping in Europort 2023

With 2022 seeing significant developments in autonomous shipping, the topic will be high on the agenda at this year’s edition of Europort. Autonomous vessels are widely regarded as the future of the maritime industry, and in 2022, developments in autonomous shipping and related technologies continued to accelerate globally.


One Sea adds two new members 

Setting the pace of change was One Sea, the non-profit international alliance whose goal is to deliver an autonomous maritime transport system centred on safe, sustainable and commercially viable ship operations. The association welcomed two autonomous technology pioneers as its latest members in 2022 – Sea Machines Robotics, based in Boston, Massachusetts, and Avikus, based in South Korea.

Sea Machines and Avikus makes waves in autonomous shipping 

An exhibitor at this year’s Europort, Sea Machines made maritime headlines in October 2021 when it completed the world’s first 1,000-nautical-mile autonomous and remotely controlled voyage of a commercial vessel – a tugboat named Nellie Bly. Avikus achieved a similar milestone in June 2022, conducting the world’s first transoceanic voyage of a large merchant ship – LNG carrier Prism Courage – using autonomous navigation technologies.

Netherlands emerges as smart shipping hub 

Europort exhibitors are central to the autonomous ship technology drive – with One Sea members Wärtsilä, ABB and Kongsberg among them – and new initiatives through 2022 have demonstrated substantive progress by other industry innovators.

In October, for example, Holland Shipyards Group (HSG) signed a contract with Trafikverket Sweden for the delivery of four all-electric ferries enabled for remote control by shore-based staff in Stockholm. Again, world-leading geo-data specialist Fugro reached an agreement with fellow Europort exhibitors Kooiman Engineering and Van Oossanen Naval Architects covering the design of Blue Prism™, a series of advanced, ultra-efficient uncrewed surface vessels.

In fact, Europort has already established itself as a focal point for autonomous ship technology, after the Netherlands Forum for Smart Shipping – SMASH! – launched its ‘Roadmap Smart Shipping’ at Europort 2021. The launch showcased plans to accelerate the development and use of autonomous systems at sea, in ports and on inland waterways, and the role of SMASH! in coordinating efforts at a national and regional level and building networks between relevant companies, government and research institutions.

At Europort 2023, SMASH! – in collaboration with the International Network for Autonomous Ships and Netherlands Maritime Technology – will host the fifth International Conference on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (ICMASS). Taking place at Europort for the first time, ICMASS is not to be missed.

Digitalisation at Europort 

Europort 2023 will also feature a dedicated ‘Digitalization Area’, where pioneers in digital transformation and smart connectivity can connect, collaborate and share their solutions with a global maritime audience. The new space is geared towards developers, producers and suppliers in areas including automation, autonomous shipping, remote inspection, remote monitoring and control, robotics and unmanned systems.

Discover the Digitalization Area at Europort 2023, 7-10 November.

Are you a maritime start-up, discover the Rising Stars Area at Europort 2023.

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