An 18-month £900,000 joint industry project will explore using autonomous surface vessels, integrated with existing manned shipping operations, to support offshore wind farm operations and maintenance.
The Windfarm Autonomous Ship Project, part funded by Innovate UK and led by ASV Global, in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, SeaRoc Group, Houlder and University of Portsmouth aims to develop a timeline for the phased introduction of autonomous vessels.
Previous research has found that vessels can account for as much as 60% of an offshore wind farm’s operating costs. Using autonomous vessels will also create skilled, cross-sector jobs in areas such as the integration and planning of autonomous vessels, the groups says.
ASV Global use its autonomous control system to tackle the challenges presented by the operation of autonomous vessels in the constrained environment of a windfarm. ORE Catapult will work on the use cases and validation of the cost savings created by the project. SeaRoc Group will use its SeaPlanner software to assist with the monitoring and operation of autonomous vessels and the introduction of advanced cargo planning systems. The University of Portsmouth will assist with efficient route planning, logistics management and system analytics. Houlder will develop the vessel design and an innovative handling system to enable autonomous cargo transfer.
The project team will work with industry sponsor Ørsted, who will provide use cases from its Hornsea One offshore wind farm.