Products / Assisted Autonomy

Autonomous Crane Control System

Since late 2017, Aker BP and Optilift has collaborated on developing technology for remotely monitored autonomous offshore crane operations. The development has been performed in stages, maturing the technology readiness level (TRL) where among other a model crane, simulator and an electric lattice boom offshore crane from Palfinger has been used to test and demonstrate the technology.

During the first public demonstration in December 2019, Responsible Technology Lead at Aker BP, and owner of the autonomous crane project Stian Ødegaard, said the development of remote and autonomous cranes is a core part of the ongoing digital focus at the company.

– There are a lot of dangerous situations that can arise around the rough environment on deck, and by removing personnel from these zones we will significantly increase their safety. Autonomous operations will also create a more efficient workflow for us and the industry as a whole, he explained in December 2019 (link to article).

The autonomous crane control system from Optilift is supporting Aker BP’s mechanical AutoHook concept, and is set up to be able to perform lifts of cargo without the need for human interaction. After successful demonstrations of the technology using the model crane in 2019, full-size crane testing and further maturation of the technology was performed onshore during 2021 and thereafter offshore during 2022.

During summer 2021 tests were being performed at Egersund on a full-size electric lattice boom crane from Palfinger. Read article describing the tests here, and see video from Egersund-test below.

After the lattice boom crane was installed offshore at the Valhall field of Aker BP, testing and optimization of the Optilift solution continued throughout 2022. The tests started with gradually increasing complexity on the loading decks on the rig, to confirm the assistance systems and autonomy, before moving onto tests in calm weather conditions on a supply vessel (see video below).

« We are thrilled to have reached technology readiness level 4 for our solution. This is an important step towards achieving fully remote-controlled lifting operations offshore”, says Torbjørn Engedal, CTO at Optilift (link to article describing the milestone).

“This is a big and important milestone, because this is the first step towards an autonomous future, with crane operations performed from a central control room in Stavanger”, says Kristin Moe Elgsaas, technology manager with Aker BP (See LinkedIn post for Elgsaas’ statement).

After the testing during 2022 was concluded, Optilift defined the remaining tasks to reach a fully operational solution (TRL7) to include refining the perception- and control algorithms and continue testing in gradually more challenging weather conditions.

Late 2023 Optilift signed a contract with Palfinger and Aker BP to realise the world’s first remote- controlled and autonomous offshore cranes, planned to be operational in 2026/2027. Read more here.

A video demonstration is available from the first proof of concept using a model crane, demonstrated in 2019.