Maritime Hydrogen Highway Work Package 5

Autonomous ship & mooring systems

To support a seamless and safe offloading of hydrogen from the offshore platform to Autonomous Network Transport at Sea (ANTS) ships (or from ANTS ships to ports), an automated berthing and mooring system is proposed, which can be easily fitted to the offshore platform, as well as an existing port.

The system relies on hardware development, bridging the critical distance, in the order of tens of metres, between ship and shore, or ship and platform, where currently human intervention through tugs, winches and other manually controlled technologies is provided to safely moor the vessel at its location. In addition to the design of the hardware, the required software and data programme will be developed, and its fully autonomous operation demonstrated in scaled testing in world leading experimental facilities.

Lead partner: OS Energy

Supporting Partners: University of Strathclyde, Newcastle Marine Services Ltd

Through the work a modular, scalable design will be presented for smart, emission-free ANTS ships, along with a soft- and hardware-based technology, allowing seamless operation of autonomous vessels for mooring, berthing and cargo operations in port and at sea.  The scope for autonomous operations will be demonstrated at model scale in state-of-the-art laboratory test.

Diagram of an Autonomous Network Transport at Sea (ANTS) ship


Image: Modular design of the ANTS ship

Further detail:

  • Ship Design – currently there are no ships available on the market which are designed to specifically transport hydrogen as part of a short sea network. The presented concept design of ANTS ships will fill this gap with new design developments, incorporating zero emission technologies, modular design approaches and digital systems from the outset, leading to a proof of concept of the offshore generation and transport of green hydrogen to shore. A review of hydrogen carriers will be conducted and included in the choice of fuel for the vessel itself.
  • Autonomous Ship – an autonomous system, a novel time-optimal path planning and tracking control method based on nonlinear model predictive control (MPC) and spatial reformulation will be proposed to demonstrate advanced features. Specifically, as an advanced predictive controller, the nonlinear MPC optimises the berthing path to a minimum time mathematically at the planning stage and compensates the uncertainty disturbance during the tracking process. Implementing this control system to the ANTS ships will enable a fully autonomous and safe transport of offshore green hydrogen to shore.