Bridging the gap bridging the gap between strategy and operations in autonomous maritime logistics

Developing and implementing a simulation-based model

More Info


This study integrates strategic decisions and operational control systems in autonomous shipping. By providing ships with situational information and adding a virtual operator, we show that vessels can make informed choices regarding their route and engine settings. To demonstrate this integration, we developed new components that were tested in three lab experiments.
The 'green routing' experiment showed the bridge between the control system of the autonomous vessel, operated via Robot Operating System (ROS), to the simulation environment of OpenCLSim. We developed a real-time variant of OpenCLSim and a communication component that could expose the state of the OpenCLSim simulation with the ROS system. This experiment showed that the path provided by the simulation was followed by an autonomous vessel.
The 'green steaming' experiment showed that the ship could also adapt its speed based on information from the simulations. We developed an additional communication component capable of advising the vessel about its velocity. Together with the green routing capability, this forms the basis for more complex experiments.
The 'port call' experiment showed a potential use case of the green routing and green steaming capabilities. We created a waypoint layout similar to the port. While a ship is sailing, every five seconds, twelve simulations are computed. The scenarios vary in engine order, route choices, resulting in varying emissions, fuel, and cost. We evaluated the impact of different tactics such as green routing, green steaming, and full-speed sailing on operational behavior like steering and engine order. Our approach, using a real-time version of a Vessel in the OpenCLSim simulation software, enabled predictive simulations to facilitate the chosen tactic based on a given strategy. Integrating simulations to evaluate the options with the control systems can develop into a valuable tool for optimizing vessel performance and reducing environmental impact in autonomous shipping operations.