Ports Of Stockholm Explores Safety Aspects Of Autonomous Shipping In Innovative Research Project

Ports of Stockholm and its collaborative partners have been awarded funding from the Swedish Transport Agency maritime transport research and innovation portfolio. Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) is coordinating the research project, which has the name PLUZ Policy Lab Urban Zjöfart. Other actors participating in the project are Norwegian shipping company Torghatten, technology supplier Zeabuz, Det Norske Veritas Sweden (DNV), who work with vessel classification and certification, as well as the Vattenbussen AB organisation, which focuses on efficient use of resources and the potential of waterways to contribute to a sustainable society.

Autonomous Shipping
Credits: Ports of Stockholm

“Being part of a joint effort to explore and develop the safety aspects of innovative autonomous vessels is fully aligned with the City of Stockholm’s quays strategy, where one of the focus areas is research and development of urban water-borne transport. We are also looking forward to the potential the project has to strengthen Stockholm’s and Sweden’s standing internationally in the area of development of maritime sustainability and mobility,” says Ports of Stockholm CEO, Magdalena Bosson.

Ports of Stockholm’s newest customer, shipping company Torghatten, has already announced the introduction this spring of an electrically powered autonomously operated ferry service in central Stockholm. This joint research project will explore the safety aspects of remotely operated water-borne passenger services and, thanks to the introduction of the autonomous ferry service which will initially have an operator aboard, there is a practical example of operations in Stockholm to base studies on.

“The concept behind the project is to investigate the inherent policy-related challenges of autonomous operation, both prior to and in parallel with the introduction of the new Stockholm service. This is important when we transition from the stage of having an operator aboard to being a service that is monitored and controlled remotely from a control room on the mainland,” says Reidun Svarva, Business Development Manager at the Torghatten AS shipping company.

The research project is a further step towards being able to use autonomous technology at sea. This means ensuring responsible and safe development, as well as the need to review this new service type with regard to the existing rules and regulations.

“Autonomous vessels can be the key to solving cost-efficient transport challenges, but a predictable regulations framework is needed to be able to achieve full benefit from the possibilities. The knowledge we will build in this project can establish new prerequisites for autonomous systems and policies, so that new transport solutions can be introduced,” adds Zeabuz CEO, Erik Dyrkoren.

The Vattenbussen company was founded with the concept of reducing climate impact through greater use of waterways, instead of investing in expensive infrastructure facilities that carry a risk of creating even more climate damage.

“For commuters the frequency of services is often a decisive factor. With the autonomous technology the ferry services can function as a floating bridge or tunnel, with a lower impact on the climate than traditional forms of infrastructure. This project is a first and important step to being able to introduce new and attractive options for cyclists and pedestrians in the future,” explains Susanna Hall Kihl, Managing Director of Vattenbussen AB.

The research project will run from February 2023 until February 2025.

“The solutions and regulations in the area of the maritime industry related to autonomous development are an important part of our operations. We are very much looking forward to gaining more knowledge and contributing to this project,” states Mikael Johansson, Head of Maritime Advisory Sweden & Denmark at DNV AB.

The PLUZ Policy Lab Urban Zjöfart research project is a continuation of the Smarta Fartyg innovation project, which is also coordinated by RISE.

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