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Smooth sailing for EU Horizon 2020 event Auto-BARGE

​Extensive exchange of knowledge and valuable relationship building. This summarizes the event that Marine technology and Maritime studies hosted as part of the EU Horizon 2020 project AutoBARGE, which took place at Chalmers last week. For four days, representatives from academia and industry gathered from all over Europe to jointly pave the way for autonomous ship transport for inland waterways.
On 14 – 17 November, the divisions of Marine Technology and Maritime Sciences hosted an event within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 project AutoBARGE, a European training and research network aiming to pave the way for autonomous ship transport for inland waterways. More specifically, the project is about both building highly qualified competence for autonomous shipping and further developing models for autonomous ships to be able to "take over" the role of the crew on board, as well as to satisfy socio-technical, logistical, economic and regulatory conditions for a successful and safe implementation of autonomous ships.

The event lasted for four days and consisted, among other things, of a two-day seminar held by leading researchers in the field from the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences at Chalmers and from RISE.

For knowledge exchange and relationship building

On site to take part in the event were the project's early-stage researchers and PhD students as well as representatives from industry and the EU Horizon Commission. And for a fair share of the participants, the event did not only entail knowledge exchange and education, but also a chance to see each other IRL for the first time.

“The event went very well. It was the first time that a majority of the early-stage researchers, supervisors and industry beneficiaries got to meet face-to-face to build the nucleus of the interdisciplinary work and cooperation that should emerge from the consortium,” says Scott MacKinnon, professor at Maritime studies, who spoke on "Human factors of maritime automation" at the event.

“All the early-stage researchers involved in the AutoBARGE project got both technical and "soft skills” training during the event. I believe they also started to understand the full scope of the project, which promotes the exchange of ideas and project cooperation among different research subjects within the autonomous inland shipping, such as ship systems, navigation systems, economics and law, and human factors,” says Wengang Mao, professor of ship mechanics, who together with Jonas Ringsberg, professor in Marine Structures at Marine Technology, gave a presentation themed "Ship resistance and energy consumption" at the event.
And Jonas Ringsberg especially wants to highlight the importance of the relationship-building values that come with the event.

“The fourteen early-stage researchers had time on their own to discuss common research areas and get to know each other on a social and private level. We could see that they established valuable and friendly relationships, which is important and promising for their future research collaborations and personal development, says Jonas Ringsberg. 

During the event, a number of research areas were discussed through lectures by several researchers from the Department of Mechanics and Maritime sciences, including Monica Lundh, lecturer at Maritime studies, who lectured on "Handling thick and rich data”, Henrik Ringsberg, instructor in technical and maritime management, who gave a presentation on "Maritime analytic framework" and Mikael Lind, adjunct professor at Maritime studies, who lectured on "Port collaborative decision making".

A European affair

The AutoBARGE project's long-term goal of developing an autonomous shipping transport for inland waterways is a concern for large parts of Europe. More than 37,000 kilometers of waterways connect hundreds of cities and industrial regions on the European continent and 13 countries in the EU share an interconnected waterway network. The AutoBARGE project unites European industry and academia with partners from seven universities, two high tech companies and one institute. And among the representatives from the project’s European Commission, the event seems to be considered a success.

“The project startup was given very positive reviews from the Project Manage of the EU Horizon Commission as well as from the early-stage researchers in attendance. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions​ are unlike traditional research consortia where formal work plans and cooperative tasks are well defined and integrated. In this program, much self-organisation is required, and it was clear that this event sparked this process,” explains Scott MacKinnon.

With the first event in place, the future looks bright for AutoBARGE, not least for the project's early-stage researchers who now are able to bring their collaborations to the next level. 

“The upcoming period will look exciting for them, as they will actively seek cooperation outside their host institutes and plan their secondment for research exchange and cooperation. We are also looking forward to welcoming at least three early-stage researchers from other institutes to exploit our current research results contributing to actual benefits of autonomous inland shipping,” says Wengang Mao. 

Text: Lovisa Håkansson

Page manager Published: Thu 24 Nov 2022.