A far-reaching Memorandum of Intent covering future collaboration has been signed by the organisation orchestrating space programmes for 22 European countries and the coordinators of One Sea, the industry alliance bringing together leading exponents of autonomous ship technology.
The agreement, between One Sea coordinator DIMECC and the European Space Agency (ESA), sets out common objectives to encourage the development of space-based applications to analyse, enable and implement maritime digitalisation and autonomy using latest generation connectivity.
The One Sea alliance gathers together key stakeholders from the maritime and ICT industries to accelerate the delivery of digitalised solutions to market. It does so under the guidance of DIMECC (Digital, Internet, Materials & Engineering Co-Creation), which has been established to support strategic research, development and innovation. ESA’s participation aligns with the space agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) Business Applications programme, which aims at supporting European players in delivering commercial products and services that benefit user communities across a number of vertical domains.
“This is an important statement of intent, through which One Sea and the ESA acknowledge the significance that ongoing digitalisation and autonomy have for the maritime industries,” says Jukka Merenluoto, One Sea Lead. “Expertise from different disciplines is necessary to transform today’s connectivity capabilities for tomorrow’s needs, and this MoI represents a unique opportunity to develop applications and services that leverage assets on the ground and in space.”
“It is with great satisfaction that we start the cooperation with DIMECC and the other actors participating in the One Sea Alliance,” comments Rita Rinaldo, Head of the ESA Institutional Projects Section. “We expect that the current initiative, thanks to the engagement of the partners, will foster the emergence of innovative space-based downstream solutions addressing the key challenges of the future maritime and shipping sector.”
The knowledge-sharing agreement foresees using resources, expertise and facilities belonging to one of the signatories to achieve common goals. The MoI makes explicit reference to the future use of DIMECC’s Jaakonmeri test area for autonomous vessels – the first dedicated test zone worldwide for autonomous ship technology, located off western Finland. Finnish regulators have authorised One Sea to oversee future trials in the area.
Momentum continues to build for One Sea, as the vehicle best suited to coordinate thinking on shipping’s autonomous future. Members ABB, Kongsberg Maritime and Wärtsilä ran separate autonomous ship trials off the Finnish and Norwegian coasts at the end of 2018. Last month, three global maritime sector influencers joined the One Sea alliance, after satellite group Inmarsat and NYK Group research subsidiary MTI (Monohakobi Technology Institute) became full members and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) signed up as an associate member.