AEGIS: Autonomous ships meet automated ports

EU’s Horizon 2020 project AEGIS develops connected and automated waterborne transport

AEGIS Use Cases

Inland and short sea ships and their ports is a critical part of Europe’s transport system. With stricter requirements on decarbonization and reduced noise and pollution from the transport sector, the importance should only increase! However, the convenience and flexibility of road transport still tend to trumph the sustainability goals. The AEGIS project has been selected by the EU Commission to show that autonomous ships and automation in ports can make waterborne transport much more flexible and user oriented, while continuing to reduce the societal and environmental impact of EU transport. This will be the “Advanced, Efficient and Green Intermodal Systems” - AEGIS.

Small ships and inland barges can decongest roads, reduce noise and dust pollution, while operating on batteries or other non-carbon fuels. By automating ports and terminals and use these to integrate larger long distance ship operations with new and smaller ship types, a completely new European transport system can be developed. More flexible and user centric transport, better services to rural as well as urban areas and a revitalization of the regional ports and city terminals is the goal.

The AEGIS use cases are located in North Europe and represent typical short sea transports that need to be linked to local distribution systems. Case A is led by North Sea Container Lines in cooperation with the the Port of Trondheim. It uses small cargo shuttles to link coastal container ships to rural and urban destinations. Case B is led by DFDS and will link RORO short sea services to inland waterways. Case C in led by Port of Aalborg in cooperation with Port of Vordingborg and will examine how existing ports can use automation to facilitate the transfer of cargo from trucks to sea.

  1. Short sea terminals: Transport from large ports in Europe (e.g. Rotterdam) to smaller destinations along less populated coasts of Europe. This is a LOLO, and mainly container-based transport system. The idea is to use fewer terminals closer to the main fairway to increase main service speed and then shuttle cargo to final destination with small unmanned and preferably autonomous and electric vessels to increase flexibility.
  2. Short sea and inland shipping interface in Belgium and Netherlands: Interface between RORO transport from several North European ports to Rotterdam, Ghent and Zeebrugge and further on with waterway connections to smaller inland destinations in Flanders. The idea is to bring cargo as close to the end destination as possible (final delivery) with smaller zero emission vessels utilizing the benefits of more automation in the concepts being developed.
  3. Revitalizing regional ports and city centre terminals: Due to real estate development at the waterfront, the Danish SME ports in Aalborg and Vordingborg have moved out of the city centres, but is still well located. To be competitive with road transport they need to increase efficiency at its terminals to reduce costs and secure higher frequency by feeders, be competitive at the RORO segment and provide multimodal green logistics solutions combining short-sea shipping with rail transport.

In addition to the use case owners, the consortium consists of technology providers Cargotec and MacGregor (cranes and cargo equipment), Grieg Connect (Digital integration) as well as ISE, DTU, AAU and SINTEF Ocean as research partners. The AEGIS consortium comprises 12 highly qualified partners from 4 countries: Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany. The project is coordinated by SINTEF Ocean in Norway

AEGIS will give a series of positive impacts related to the overall policies of EU concerning a shift in freight transport from road to waterborne and rail:

AEGIS is a three year long research and innovation project with a total funding of 7,5 M€ from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement N°859992. It will leverage a multidisciplinary team to integrate new innovations from the area of Connected and Automated Transport (CAT) to design the next generation sustainable and highly competitive waterborne transport system in Europe. This includes more diverse sizes of ships and more flexible ship systems, automated cargo handling, ports and short sea shuttles, standardized cargo units and new digital technologies.

The AEGIS Partners

Port of Aalborg Port of Aalborg is “Denmark's best-planned port area” located outside the city center on the open plains, with room for long-term development. In addition to the quaint facilities, the Port of Aalborg owns 4.2 million sqm of commercial land in the hinterland, where the infrastructure is closely linked to the E45 motorway. Almost 100 companies have already established themselves in the attractive area, about half of which are in the quay areas.
Contact: Prof. Jesper Raakjær
Aalborg Universitet Aalborg University (AAU) offers education and research within the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, technical and health sciences and is a dynamic and innovative research and educational institution oriented towards the surrounding world. AAU is characterised by combining a keen engagement in local, regional, and national issues with an active commitment to international collaboration
Contact: Prof. Jan van Tatenhove
Cargotec Finland Oy Kalmar provides cargo handling solutions and services to ports, terminals, distribution centres and heavy industry. We are the industry forerunner in terminal automation and energy-efficient container handling, with one in four container moves around the globe being handled by a Kalmar solution. We improve the efficiency of your every move through our extensive product portfolio, global service network and solutions for seamless integration of terminal processes.
Contact: Pia-Liisa Vuorela
DFDS DFDS is a shipping and logistics company with Headquarters in Copenhagen and transport networks throughout Europe. DFDS runs short sea freight and passenger routes in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, The English Channel and Mediterranean. With more than 40.000 voyages per year, DFDS is the busiest shipping company of its kind in Northern Europe and one of the busiest in Europe. The company's name is an abbreviation of Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab (literally The United Steamship Company). DFDS was founded in 1866, when C.F. Tietgen merged the three biggest Danish steamship companies of that day.
Contact: Mads Bentzen Billesø
DTU For almost two centuries, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), has been dedicated to fulfilling the vision of H.C. Ørsted - the father of electromagnetism - who founded the university in 1829 to develop and create value using the natural sciences and the technical sciences to benefit society. Today, DTU is ranked as one of the foremost technical universities in Europe, continues to set new records in the number of publications, and persistently increases and develops partnerships with industry, and assignments accomplished by DTU’s scientific advice.
Contact: Dr. Harilaos N. Psaraftis
Grieg Connect Grieg Connect is a result of a merger between the software companies Seamless and Shiplog in November 2018. We are leading in Norway with a number of established products for port authorities, logistics bases, industry stakeholders, public authorities and shipping companies. Our solutions improve operation efficiency, minimizing manual data entries and providing high level of data quality and operation control and management. Our clients’ high demand for good IT solutions combined with our practical operational knowledge are core focus.
Contact: Vidar Fagerheim
ISE The Institut für Strukturleichtbau und Energieeffizienz gGmbH (ISE) (Institute for Structural Lightweight Construction and Energy Efficiency GmbH) is a research institute focusing on basic and applied research in the fields of structural lightweight construction and energy efficiency aiming for the development of innovative, multifunctional components and systems. ISE focuses on the research and development of innovative materials, technologies and products as well as test methods for applications e.g. in civil engineering, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering and plant construction. Due to its research associates ISE can offer competences and know-how in the field of developing innovative lightweight ship types for selected use cases.
Contact: Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. Stefan Krause
Macgregor MacGregor has unique offering to container shipping business ranging from individual equipment required for cargo stowage & securing to complete solution packages including customer’s business and operation development services. In addition, MacGregor has extensive offering for handling bulk cargoes on ports and vessels We understand the maritime industry and our customers’ business needs, with a proven track record in the delivery of innovative, value-adding solutions. Our expertise is also often sought by industry bodies when developing new standards and regulations. Shipbuilders, owners and operators are able to optimise the profitability, safety, reliability and environmental sustainability of their operations by working in close cooperation with MacGregor.
Contact: Janne Suominen
NCL NCL is provider of logistical services connecting the hubs in Europe with the West, Mid and North of Norway. NCL is based in Haugesund Norway and cooperate with a broad network of agents in Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. To offer the best transport solutions in the industry, NCL leverage innovative technologies combined with over 20 years of local, national and international transport experience. NCL picks up and deliver containers in Europe and Norway. The Door-to-Door service is an efficient and cost effective transport solution. In AEGIS, NCL is searching for new solution to reduce costs and become more competitive.
Contact: Kenneth Johanson
SINTEF Ocean From 1 January 2017, the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK), SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture and the department for environmental technology in SINTEF Materials and Chemistry merged into a new company named SINTEF Ocean AS. The company has 340 employees and is an integrated part of SINTEF, but also minority owned by strong and motivated industry players. Many of the challenges of modern society can be solved through sustainable use of the ocean. For a long time, SINTEF has been a distinct and important partner for trade and industry and the authorities, aiming to be on the leading edge in developing future-oriented solutions.
Contact: Dr. Atle Minsaas
Trondheim Havn Trondheim Port Authority is owned by 13 municipalities in Trøndelag. The company own and operate all public ports in Trøndelag and mid-Norway region, i.e. the ports at Orkanger, Trondheim, Stjørdal, Steinkjer, Verdal and Namsos. There are 55 employees at locations Orkanger, Trondheim, Verdal and Namsos. Most of the goods transported is in dry bulk, e.g. limestone out from Verdal port, and other bulk products. We also transport cargo like break bulk cargo and containers. Currently there are nearly 100 calls of cruise ships each year. And this number is expected to increase in the coming years. Trondheim Port Authority is working several projects regarding shore power and other green solutions. We are also involved in Trondheimsfjorden as a test area for autonomous ships.
Contact: Dr. Terje R. Meisler
Vordingborg Havn Vordingborg Port is a Danish small-medium-sized entrepreneurial port situated on the island of Masnedø south of Zealand. The port has been growing rapidly and has undergone a substantial expansion. The harbor area since 2015 quadrupled in size. Today, the port is amongst one of Zealand’s biggest ports. The huge expansion project has included an enlargement of the harbor area and a dredging of the fairway down to a depth of 10.4 meters with a width of 70 meters. The area of the harbor has gone from 45.000 m2 in 2015 to 170.000 m2 by 2019. The expansion of the port was performed with a unique focus on sustainability. Using recycled products such as contaminated soil and slag to build a new quay is unique in building port facilities.
Contact: Christina Louise Mayland