The 5G-assisted Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (5G MASS) is focusing on the domain of assisted and autonomous shipping in the proximity of seaports. To this extent, the project will implement a set of functional blocks, shared between the ship and the port digital environments.
Thanks to the terrestrial 5G millimetre-wave network, it will be possible to aggregate real-time information shared between the shipboard and the port digital environments with the aim to maximize the positioning of the vessels in the port and to assist the pilot in the berthing operations.
Following the e-Navigation concept being standardized at IMO (International Maritime Organization), 5G MASS will contribute to enhanced navigational safety while simultaneously reducing the burden on the master, the pilot, and the ship crew. As the basic technology for such an innovative step is mostly available, the challenge stands in ensuring the availability of all information in real-time relying on the complementary capabilities provided by the satellite and terrestrial-5G networks.
5G networks will make new types of measurements possible by advanced antennas and by new positioning signals at higher frequencies, at both base stations and the user receivers higher speed, larger traffic capacity and ultra-low-latency (or signal delay) communications if compared to other solutions.
5G features will also be adopted for accurate video streams alignment (in terms of positioning, navigation and timing) sas captured from different cameras covering the port basin and that are used by Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality capabilities. These features are of paramount importance for the remotisation of the vessel control, especially in difficult operations like those of maneuvering and berthing in port waters.
New technology achievements will also be targeting the domain of Advanced Positioning Navigation and Timing (PNT) whose service aims to estimate the vessel positioning in ports as a merge of different position sources, fulfilling the IMO target requiring to reach a higher accuracy, integrating GNSS service and the localization capabilities provided by the IoT and the 5G network.
The 5G MASS system will be:
- partly deployed in a “MASS Piloting Unit” and run on portable and wearable devices which will be offered to the final users (notably active pilots) appointed to the ship control;
- partly deployed in a mirror implementation (called “Vessel Companion”) which will run in the control centres ashore.
An extensive testing campaign will be conducted in real world conditions in compliance with IMO MSC.1/Circ.1604 “Interim Guidelines for MASS trials” and keeping in the due consideration the preliminary results MSC.1/Circ.1638 “Outcome of the Regulatory Scoping Exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships” published in June 2021.
The trials will be conducted on a Ro-Ro ferry already in service at the Port of Livorno (Italy) under the supervision of the Italian Coast Guard.
The results obtained from the campaign will be shared with the Italian National Coast Guard Headquarters to contribute to the assessment of the standards in force and to steer the novel standardization activities at IMO and EU levels.
Start date: March 2022
Duration: 24 months
Partnership: TIM, CNIT, FlySight, Cetena, Grimaldi Group
ESA – ARTES contract: 4000137214
5G SENSOR@SEA – The objective of 5G SENSOR@SEA is to design, deploy and evaluate a testbed enabling 5G technologies and services in the context of the maritime transport.
The core of the testbed is a NB-IoT framework on top of a hybrid terrestrial-satellite network, providing information coming from the maritime transport domain and port terminals (terrestrial domain) to a OneM2M IoT platform, making them available to build vertical maritime application services. In particular, we will focus on the cargoship container transport, due to the ongoing and disruptive growth of this market.
The testbed also includes part of network functions (especially related to satellite network) deployed in the cloud as virtualized functionalities, thereby fostering higher cost efficiency for network deployments. Cloud virtualization technology (used to deploy and orchestrate part of satellite network components) and Software Defined Networking capabilities (SDN, used to program the data flows) ensure, among others, achieving seamless integration of the satellite components in the upcoming 5G network systems. We refer to this testbed as a “5G technologies and service enabler” because its OneM2M IoT platform will be able to manage large amount of data produced by a massive IoT (mIoT) environment (operating in the maritime transport domain and in the terrestrial domain), which is a fundamental 5G paradigm as well as cloud virtualization and SDN.
For all these reasons, we named the proposed system 5G massive Machine Type Communication testbed (5G mMTC testbed). Based upon the 5G mMTC testbed, the 5G SENSOR@SEA activity will lead to the development of a prototype version of the 5G Global Tracking System (5GT System), proposed as final product. It enables a real time and remote monitoring of goods inside the cargo-ship containers, even during deep sea journeys.
The 5GT System design, requirements, integration and functionalities (both in terms of sub-modules and E2E system) will be verified through an accurate laboratory testing plan. Then, a field trial campaign will be conducted in order to evaluate the 5GT System performance in a real scenario, considering both maritime domain (i.e. containers carried by a cargo ship) and terrestrial domain (i.e. containers located in a port terminal).
Both the cargo ship and the port terminal will be provided by Messina Line, which is a stakeholder of 5G SENSOR@SEA.
Start date: January 2021
Duration: 24 months
Partnership: TIM, CNIT, MBI, Azcom, Sistematica
ESA – ARTES contract: 4000133644