Big kexchange of knowledge and valuable relationship building. This summarizes the event that marine technology and maritime studies hosted within the framework 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.
Between 14 – 17 November, the Departments of Marine Engineering and Maritime Studies hosted an event within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 project AutoBARGE, a European education and research network whose overall aim is 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 two-day seminars 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 doctoral students and researchers as well as representatives from industry and the EU Horizon Commission. And for many participants, the event meant not only knowledge exchange and education, but also a chance to see each other IRL for the first time.
– The event went very well. This was the first time that a majority of the researchers, supervisors and industry representatives got to meet face-to-face to build the core of the interdisciplinary work and collaboration that should emerge from the consortium, said Scott MacKinnon, professor of maritime studies, who gave a lecture on ” Human factors of maritime automation” during the event.
– All junior researchers attached to AutoBARGE received both technical training and “soft” skills during the event. I think they were able to understand the full scope of the project, which promotes the exchange of ideas and project collaboration between different research subjects within 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 of marine structures at marine engineering, gave a presentation on the theme “Ship resistance and energy consumption” during the event.
And Jonas Ringsberg especially wants to highlight the importance of the relationship-building values that come with the event.
– The fourteen junior researchers and doctoral students had the opportunity to discuss joint 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 working at the department of mechanics and maritime sciences, including Monica Lundh, lecturer in 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 aim to develop an autonomous vessel 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 within the EU 13 countries 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 seen as a success.
– The project start received very positive reviews from the Project Manage of the EU Horizon Commission and from the junior researchers who participated. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions differ from traditional research consortia where formal work plans and collaborative tasks are well defined and integrated. This program requires a lot of self-organization and it was clear that this event triggered that process, explains Scott MacKinnon.
With the first event in port, the future looks bright for AutoBARGE, not least for the project’s junior researchers and doctoral students who can now switch up the collaboration between the parties.
– The coming period will look exciting for them, as they will actively seek collaboration outside their host institutes and plan their secondment for research exchange and collaboration. We also look forward to welcoming at least three PhD students from other institutes to Chalmers to utilize our current research results that contribute to actual benefits of autonomous inland shipping, says Wengang Mao.
Text: Lovisa Håkansson