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Model testing has confirmed that autonomous ships can navigate around obstacles using onboard sensors and intelligent components.

Aker Arctic tested a wireless model of a vessel at its facilities in Helsinki, Finland, to demonstrate how an autonomous ship would react to operating in congested waters.

Its ship model was able to detect obstacles in the ice tank using onboard sensors. The model manoeuvred around these obstacles without input from an operator, then moored itself automatically to a target pier.

During this test, the vessel used battery-powered propulsion units and transferred data to another facility, which acted as a shore-based operations centre. It had an autonomous navigation module that routed the vessel around obstacles detected by the onboard sensors.

This equipment was connected using distributed intelligent vessel components (DIVEC), a network framework that provides a modern protocol for connecting devices and transferring data between them.

DIVEC provides an extensible and adaptable infrastructure that allows interfacing with third party systems and components. The technology used in the autonomous ship model tests in the laboratory is also adaptable to semi- and full-scale prototypes.

Source; http://www.marinemec.com/news/view,tests-prove-autonomous-ships-navigation-claims_52178.htm