October 16, 2019

Successful first public demonstration of autonomous crane control system

During The Aker Solutions Unmanned Demo Day Optilift and Aker BP together performed the first live public showing of the first unmanned offshore autonomous crane control system.

The autonomous crane control system consists of elements developed by both Aker BP and Optilift, and is set up to be able to perform lifts of cargo without the need for human interaction.

– This is a big milestone for us. The system is using both the Optilift sensor technology, as well as a newly developed «auto-hook»-concept from Aker BP, which enables the crane to both load and offload containers from supply ships to platforms without staff or personnel on deck, says Torbjørn Engedal, CTO in Optilift.

Core part of our digital focus

Responsible Technology Lead at Aker BP, and owner of the autonomous crane project Stian Ødegaard, says 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 explains.

According to Ødegaard, Aker BP are now willing to release their “auto-hook”-technology to the market.

– As a company we have no interest in owning this particular technology for ourselves. We would like to see other players further develop the concept.

Autonomy closing in

Even though the demonstration at the demo day event was not at a full-scale, the future of autonomous operations are now closer than ever.

When will such a crane-system be fully utilised in a live and operative environment?

– It depends. Several parts of the system is already in use, but on a fully co-operative scale there is still need for more work on testing. The crane itself also needs to be fully developed, Ødegaard says.

Aslak Næss, Project Lead at Aker BP, says the full autonomous system could potentially be delivered to external customers within a two-year time frame.

– We know there are interested parties here. If a possibility opens up for us I am confident we could be able to deliver this system within Christmas 2021, fully tried and tested, he states.

Featured “Digital Logistics”

The crane control system demonstrated at the event also incorporates the Digital Logistics technology developed by Optilift, which automatically tracks and traces every container movement within a given environment, providing a full digital on-demand picture of the exact placing and whereabouts of containers and goods.

The “Deck Planner”-function also provides a feature to plan lifting operations and reserve deck areas, and will furthermore be used to send commands and “orders” to autonomous cranes.

Do you have what it takes to work as an Autonomy Software Engineer?

The parent-company of Optilift, VOCA, is looking to expand the team: Read the full job description here.