Developing a black box for autonomous marine vessels
The SME Danelec Marine is a world-leading manufacturer of Voyage Data Recorders (VDR) for marine vessels – the equivalent of the black box in airplanes – with more than 6,000 installations worldwide.
Currently, 90% of global trade is sea-born, and the cost of maintaining full crews on vessels are significant and increasingly felt. There is a strong interest in bringing down shipping costs by automating tasks and, ultimately, through the use of autonomous vessels, where the need for on-board crews is eliminated altogether.
Autonomous ships will bring down human error while at the same time enabling labor cost savings, more efficient use of space, better fuel efficiency, and reduction in transportation time. However, the automation of ships gives rise to entirely new challenges. As a prominent example, when faults or accidents occur, it is imperative to understand where in the automated systems faults may be located, repaired and mitigated, given the absence of humans. Generally, this implies the need for adding whole new VDR capabilities to understand where in the system algorithms, commands, or sensors failed to perform.
Danelec Marine have developed the first concept for a VDR exclusively targeting autonomous vessels. In the funded Innobooster project, Danelec Marine will commence R&D on the new VDR with a base in their proprietary VDR technology available in-house. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and the Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board. Innovayt coordinated the InnoBooster proposal on behalf of Danelec Marine in 2019, securing a grant of 1 million DKK.