The SCAS network – Systems and Components for Autonomous Ships
Why a network centred on the topic of autonomous ships?
Autonomous driving in road traffic will become a reality in the long term. Networking autonomous systems on land, in the air and at sea allows synergies in the transport of passenger and goods. Traffic density on shipping routes is on a steady rise due to the increasing volume of freight, so that questions of safety and lightness of maritime traffic are becoming more and more relevant. Cost pressure and the simultaneous acceleration of numerous processes mean that autonomous systems and automated processes are becoming increasingly important as a means of saving costs – the same developments can also be observed in shipping.
Environmental aspects also play a major role, as CO2 and pollutant emissions as well as the fuel consumption of ships must be reduced, not least through stricter environmental regulations. In addition, more efficient routeing with autonomous ships is conceivable. It could help to make shipping more sustainable. Digitalisation in the upstream and downstream economic sectors is already increasing significantly, and shipping, as an interface to freight transport, cannot escape this development in the long term. With the expansion of offshore wind energy capacities, there is currently a high demand for supply and service ships, although it is conceivable that these will be operated as semi-autonomous or fully autonomous vessels in the future. All these trends are drivers for research and development projects in the areas of autonomous, semi-autonomous and smart maritime technologies.
Assistance systems for semi-autonomous ships as a bridge technology on the way into the autonomous age
The SCAS network is dedicated to the realisation of systems, components, sensors, communication services and technologies for semi- or fully autonomous ships. The focus of the network is not just on the full autonomy of the vessels, but in particular on technologies that can be employed on semi-autonomous ships, such as nautical assistance systems for automated mooring. Another focus is on systems that make autonomous ship operation possible in the first place.
The network has set itself the goal of bridging the gap between technology providers and technology users and it offers the opportunity to launch innovations in the maritime industry quickly and purposefully. The combination of different sets of expertise within the network makes it particularly interesting as a partner for users such as shipping companies, shipyards or logistics companies.
At SCAS, partners from science and the industry work together to achieve common goals through research and development projects. Eleven small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and four research institutions are part of the network, including the MCN members CylceSEC, DRYNET, NautilusLog, S.M.I.L.E. Engineering, the Maritime Centre of the Flensburg University of Applied Sciences and the Jade University of Applied Sciences. The Maritime Cluster Northern Germany is an associated partner of the network.
ZIM network funding as a means of cross-state cooperation
The SCAS network is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology within the framework of the ZIM network funding measure and it started its work in summer 2018. The network partners come from all over Germany – in line with the MCN idea of promoting and supporting cross-state cooperation in projects.
From the very beginning, the network partners have attached particular importance to establishing contacts with international partners. Two SMEs and one research institution from Norway are members of SCAS: Super Radio AS, Baerrekraftig Arbeidsmiljo AS and SINTEF Ocean AS. The network also enjoys contacts in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Korea. SCAS is a member of the International Network for Autonomous Ships – INAS.