A prototype system designed to improve port traffic management has been tested in Ireland's Port of Cork

Parking assistant for ships tested in Irish port

A system for high-speed precise port navigation, designed to improve safety and efficiency of port traffic and reduce fuel consumption of ships, has been tested in Ireland.

The WiFi based system developed by the Finnish Research Centre VTT uses a WiMAX communication standard,  offering better performance compared with the currently available technologies. During several months of testing of the system's prototype in Ireland's Port of Cork, the network has proved it can guide hundreds of vessels in the vicinity of major ports, providing the crews with comprehensive real-time data about the traffic inside and around the port.

"The WiMAX network has a significantly higher capacity than the solutions currently in use, which are mainly based on UHF radio modems with very low bit rates. Using this network, a single port area system can support hundreds of vessels simultaneously," said Esa Piri, a Research Scientist at VTT.

The enhanced capacity of the network allows port operators to increase throughput of the port while maintaining maximum safety.

DockingAssist includes a base station located in the port area and a lightweight portable navigation tool, which provides pilots with timely information on the location, speed and heading of the vessel.

The WiMAX broadband network, together with Real-Time-Kinematic enhanced satellite navigation data, enables precise positioning and navigation with the accuracy of centimetres.

The capacity of the network allows port operators to handle multiple tasks at the same time, such as distributing weather and tidal information and updates about ships’ movements

"The prototype system was perceived as very satisfying, and the companies are giving thought to how to use the system as part of their own products. They are particularly interested in the additional possibilities the WiMAX technology can provide for the management of port operations,” Piri said.

Apart from VTT, Spanish companies Ateknea Solutions, ASCAMM-CTAE and Prodevelop, together with Denmark’s Marimatech, Greek Net Technology, Israeli Runcom Technologies and the Port of Cork have been working on the two-year EU-funded project.

Recently, VTT has developed an advanced wireless network for PSA, the company responsible for port operations in Singapore.

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