autonomous-docking Bosch Rexroth

Beating the Offshore Elements with Autonomous Docking

Offshore weather conditions can be a real challenge. To increase the window of operation, efficiency and safety, Bosch Rexroth and Vroon are developing and testing technology that will allow offshore access systems to dock autonomously. 

By applying radar, LIDAR, cameras and motion reference units for retrieving data, connected to smart software systems that use smart sensor fusing algorithms and machine learning, offshore access systems will see and learn their relative position to the docking area. Feeding this input into a gangway’s control system will enable future offshore access systems to autonomously find, approach and dock in exactly the right spot, under the harshest of offshore circumstances.

Ready for Future Motion Compensation Demands

'These features are aiming at widening the window of operation, that is limited by challenging weather conditions offshore,' said Maarten Kuijpers, head of the project engineering department at Bosch Rexroth. 'These innovative features also support future motion compensation demands like docking onto floating wind turbines, or ship-to-ship transfer of goods and people.'

Real-life Testing with Vroon

By collaborating with different Bosch departments, including specialists at Bosch Corporate Research center in Renningen, Germany, Rexroth is able to make use of the Group’s latest technological developments in sensors and software. For testing, however, the company reached out to other parties. 

'Innovations like these are best tested in real-life,' Kuijpers continues. 'For this reason we are very lucky that offshore operator Vroon has offered us this opportunity. Their VOS Start, the world’s first "Walk-To-Work" vessel, has a Barge Master next-generation gangway on board, which was  equipped with the required cameras and sensors for this occasion.'

Picture: Cameras and sensors mounted on various places on the VOS Start's offshore gangway serve as the "eyes" of the gangway for defining its precise docking location.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.

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