Tallink's Megastar RoPax to provide data for autonomous vessel project

The Tallink Group’s 49,000gt Megastar was designed for the busy Tallinn/Helsinki route across the Gulf of Finland The Tallink Group’s 49,000gt Megastar was designed for the busy Tallinn/Helsinki route across the Gulf of Finland

Cruise and ferry operator Tallink's Megastar RoPax is to participate in a European Space Agency (ESA)-funded autonomous navigation research project, providing data from the busy Helsinki-Tallinn route crossing the Gulf of Finland.

A number of sensors will be installed on the the Tallink Group’s 49,000gt Megastar RoPax, which serves the intensively-utilised Tallinn/Helsinki route across the Gulf of Finland. The 27-knot vessel’s tight schedule reflects high transit speeds and intense competition on the corridor linking the Finnish and Estonian capitals.

A consortium of researchers from the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute and Aalto University will team up with Fleetrange Ltd. and Tallink Grupp to monitor data from different sensors installed on the RoPax. The technology will combine data from visual images, environmental sound recordings, RADAR and LiDAR ranging, satellite navigation, and vessel transponders.

“A single sensor is never sufficient for providing complete safety-critical information to the crew. They always refer to multiple devices providing overlapping information so that defects in any one device can be easily identified and excluded. An autonomous navigation system should work on a similar principle,” said Dr. Sarang Thombre, Research Manager at the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute.

The goal is to automatically identify and recognize objects, such as navigation aids and other vessels and boats around the ship and provide improved situational awareness information through sensor fusion.

“When such information is combined with established vessel navigation rules and regulations, it can potentially enable the vessel to navigate with minimal human guidance even in dense traffic conditions of the Baltic Sea”, Research Manager Thombre concluded.

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