Automated shipping satellite innovation

‘Crew reduced’ shipping specialist SEAFAR is integrating satellite connectivity into its remote navigation solution for the short sea shipping industry.

The two-year project to integrate satellite platform neXat is co-funded with the European Space Agency. It is in the process of being tested at sea, in collaboration with a Belgian shipping company.

Discussing the initiative, a spokesperson said: “The initial scope of the project is to integrate 4G and 5G with satellite communications into an ubiquitous, fully managed connectivity service allowing the critical operations of autonomous shipping. The short sea shipping company [involved in the project] has lines sailing in the Baltic Sea, and from Spain to the UK and Antwerp”.

The neXat platform is designed to maintain coverage by automatically switching from 4G or 5G to satellite, as required. This facilitates the continual sharing of navigational data, thereby “increasing situational awareness in SEAFAR’s remote operations centre”.

The solution will provide camera streams, alongside information about engine sounds, position, heading, speed of vessel, as well as surrounding vessels.

SEAFAR’s chief commercial officer, Janis Bargsten, said: “Remote monitoring and control of ships addresses the increasing need for qualified and skilled crew, as well as reducing the risk of human error. But a major barrier to the development of autonomous shipping has been the ability to access ubiquitous coverage to ensure seamless communications, situational awareness and safety.”