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Maritime (Autonomous) Surface Ship (MASS)

Traditional technology

The ioStudio technology can also be used to implement control systems for maritime surface ships in a traditional way. The benefit would be that the control system could more easily be upgraded later. The ioStudio framework is newly developed to comply with future requirements, so an upgrade project would be much easier. Traditional sub-systems on a manually and locally operated surface ship would consist of: Integrated Automation System (IAS), Thruster Control System (TCS), Vessel Control System (VCS), Dynamic Positioning system (DP), Integrated Navigation System (INS), etc.

Bridge Ship Web.jpg
Future technology

A future maritime control system should be implemented as an Integrated Digital System (IDS) that can be operated either locally, remotely or autonomous. An IDS controlling a Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) should mainly be built with off-the-shelf components. A ship will have more space and power available than a Maritime Autonomous Vehicle (MAV). There is potential in standardizing the way redundancy is implemented for all sub-systems in both MASS and MAV, though. Redundancy is anyway required on all levels in an autonomous system.

It should also be possible to isolate sub-systems more by using sub-system gates. Isolated sub-system networks will reduce potential conflicts between devices that don’t need to be on the same network.

The backbone of a MASS operational network should be based on IEC 61162-450, OPC UA and Ethernet. The topology of the operational networks must be adapted to the applications used on the different operator’s stations. For remote operation of autonomous systems, all sub-systems must be available for a remote operational network.

A sub-system may have redundant CAN or serial networks. An autonomous sub-system must be capable of maintaining its function also after exceptions have occurred.

A complete system should first be implemented as digital and simulated. All exceptions and missions must be tested and approved before hardware is introduced in the control loop. It’s important that simulated control systems are easily deployed on hardware after test and approval, and that models of the hardware components are representative.

This way of implementing an IDS/MASS system will give a life cycle benefit for the ship owner.

Building the ship

The simulated digital ship will be built before the hardware is engineered.  This will make it possible to resolve the sub-system integration issues before the sub-system hardware components are ordered and installed. The way the sub-systems are operated will also be resolved before the final structure of operating panels is engineered. The time required in a yard to build the ship will then be reduced to a minimum.


The simulated components in the ship will be organized in modules and sub-modules. It will be possible to add links to schematics, layouts and datasheets for all system components. Then it will be possible to validate the simulated model of a component. This will also provide a link between the digital simulated model and the IT systems used for operating the ship.

Servicing the ship

The time of finding an error in the system and fixing it should also be reduced to a minimum. A digital and simulated version of the ship can be a very useful tool to have in such a task.


A link to a service report can also be added to the simulated component in the digital ship. Both the service history and building documentation can then be available for technicians or engineers using the simulated digital ship for case-to-case servicing.

Fleet management

A digital simulated ship can also be integrated into the operational fleet management system. Autonomous operations will require different scenarios in missions to be evaluated. The correct result of the mission input will require that approved component models are used in the simulation. If an approved digital version of the ship is available when building the system, the component models can also be used when handling autonomous operations.


Links to missions used in operations can also be added to the operational history of the digital ship.

Re-building the ship

System components of a digital ship can be added, edited or removed in different versions. System modules can also be shared between different digital ships. Tools in the ioStudio suite will make it possible to handle the re-building of digital ships in a structured way.


A new version of a digital ship can be approved before it is re-built in a yard. This will make sure that minimal time is spent on re-building the ship and maximum time is spent on operation for the ship owner.


ioStudio is also an open system that can deploy re-configurable software components on different platforms. This gives greater flexibility and more options for cost-efficiency when a re-build of a ship is required.

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