AUTOBarge and Northern Lights: About the Fourth Network-Wide Event of the AUTOBarge Project in Trondheim, Norway

The fourth Network-Wide Event of the AUTOBarge Project from 16th until 19th October was hosted by one of the Project’s most Northern institutions – the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) – and took place in Trondheim, Norway. During the four-day event, the PhD Researchers participated in the SFI AutoShip event and presented their research progress with poster presentations. They also gained insights about situational awareness technology, participatory design and co-design solutions, and commercialisation or protection of research innovations. A highlight of the event was an autonomous passenger ferry demonstration (and a Northern Lights sighting).


The fourth so-called Network-Wide Event of the AUTOBarge Project took place from 16th October until 19th October in Trondheim, Norway. During these events, which happen on a biannual basis, all PhD researchers (Early-Stage Researchers) and the entire AUTOBarge Consortium (Project beneficiaries and partner institutions) meet at one of the host institutions’ locations across Europe to present research results and discuss the Project agenda. The fourth Network-Wide Event was hosted by the AUTOBarge Project institution, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), our second most Northern institution (after Nord University, located in Bodø, Norway).

AUTOBarge meets SFI AutoShip

The Event started with the AUTOBarge Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) participating in the annual consortium meeting of another research project, the SFI Autonomous ships for safe and sustainable operations (SFI AutoShip), which is a research-based innovation centre consisting of researchers and partners from the Norwegian maritime industry. During the two-day event, the AUTOBarge ESRs gained insights into the research projects of the SFI AutoShip Project and took the opportunity to network during the breaks and the project dinner, which took place on Monday evening in Clarion Hotel & Congress, Trondheim. After the SFI AutoShip event, heavy rain could not prevent some of the ESRs from hiking to explore one of the local attractions (the Illabekken hiking path).  The mud hikers were rewarded with beautiful views over the city.

A day packed full of training (and fun)

The third day of the AUTOBarge Network-Wide Event was dedicated to different trainings/seminars. The first Science & Technology Training was dedicated to the topic “Situational awareness for autonomous surface vehicles”, in which Dr. Edmund Brekke (NTNU) explained the capabilities and limitations of current situational awareness (SITAW) technology, one of the core technical requirements that must be achieved for safe autonomous shipping operations. It was an exciting training, also for the social science researchers! It followed a Soft Skills Training on “Participatory design and co-design”, delivered by Dr. Roberto Hermann (Nord University Business School), a beneficial seminar for those Early-Stage Researchers who plan to conduct empirical studies in their research projects, including industry consultation. After this, it followed a lunch break at one of the NTNU university canteens (the food was very good!). The last training session was a Science & Technology Training in which Mr Anders Aune (NTNU) provided insights on “Technology-based entrepreneurship”. Here, the ESRs learned how to commercialise or protect innovations achieved during their PhD. The last part of the day was filled with the ESRs’ Council meeting (confidential!) and a meeting with the AUTOBarge Project Manager, Stephane Stroobant. The day concluded with bowling as a social activity, and some of the ESRs even spotted Northern lights.

Image: Sunrise over Trondheim.

Presentations and an autonomous ferry demonstration

On the fourth day, the supervisors of the Early-Stage Researchers and other AUTOBarge Consortium members joined. After the welcome by the Project Coordinator, Professor Davy Pissoort, the supervisory board was held (confidential). Presentations on research and training progress by the Early-Stage Researchers followed, with a lunch break in between the presentations in another NTNU university canteen (again, the food was very good). The last presentation of the day was about an initiative some of the AUTOBarge Early-Stage Researchers took to create a smart inland shipping simulator by themselves in need of an open, free-to-use, and up-to-date simulation platform. Reactions were mixed; some supervisors thought it a fantastic, constructive idea, whereas others considered it quite ambitious (this encouraged the Early-Stage Researchers even more to achieve their endeavour). A highlight of the day was the demonstration of the autonomous passenger ferry “milliAmpere”, which took place just before sunset in one of the canals in Trondheim. The AUTOBarge Project members were even allowed a ride on the ferry to the other side of the canal. The ride felt very smooth! The fourth Network-Wide Event concluded with a delightful three-course dinner at Troll Restaurant, where modern Norwegian food was served.

Image: The autonomous ferry milliAmpere (no interaction of personnel during the crossing!).

Overall, the fourth Network-Wide Event of the AUTOBarge Project was a total success and many thanks to the local team for organising and hosting it!

An article by Sophie Orzechowski. 

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