Royal IHC and MARIN have completed dynamic positioning (DP) assessment tests for an autonomous Service Operation Vessel (SOV) at MARIN’s basins in Wageningen, the Netherlands.
The autonomous software will allow for the vessel, SOV T60-18, to carry out operations while under the supervision of the duty officer at the wheelhouse, according to IHC.
“By improving safety, increasing workability and reducing operational expenses, it is expected that the implementation of the autonomous SOV will lead to a significant reduction in service and maintenance costs of the offshore wind farm”.IHC
The autonomous operation of an SOV has been in development for several years and based on extensive input from industry stakeholders, IHC stated.
The DP assessment was the final series of model tests for the vessel, after the powering and seakeeping tests, and will provide input for the ship models in IHC’s autonomous SOV simulator.
“We tested the vessel’s seakeeping behavior and position keeping in challenging environmental conditions similar to central North Sea with 3 to 3.5 meter significant wave height. These tests have given us great insight in the performance of the vessel and IHC DP system and gives us confidence to build SOVs capable of operating in these conditions”, said IHC’s product manager Jeroen Hollebrands.
The simulator will be in operation once the project is completed in December 2020. It will encompass all functional systems of the autonomous vessel and be used to demonstrate the feasibility of the system and benchmark efficiencies.
The next phase for the autonomous SOV project will focus on further development of the autonomous navigation and control functionality.
“This project provides an excellent case in demonstrating the full potential of an autonomous functionality in an operational setting. The challenges lie not only in the development of this functionality but also in the validation and testing of the whole system in order to prove its robustness against malfunctioning sensors and subsystems”, said Egbert Ypma, MARIN’s team-lead Autonomy & Decision Support.