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The future is digital

The normal working process for implementing maritime control systems is to first design a hardware solution. This gives the shortest and most cost-efficient development project for simple systems.

Maritime control systems are getting more and more complex though. The industry wants to move towards autonomous and remotely controlled operations. This is a game changer for system development. The software development and software integration need to get more and more focus.

The software algorithms don’t need signals from an input/output-board. It can also send and receive data to and from a model in a simulator. A complete digital version of a maritime control system can be implemented in this way without having any project cost associated to hardware issues.

The ioStudio research project has been using this working method for many years. The great challenge is, of course, that the simulated model is not representative for the hardware. Board support software that is required for running the algorithms in hardware, can also implement logic that is not simulated. What happens in the simulated world may not happen in the real world then.

This obstacle is overcome by combining hardware knowledge with simulation modelling knowledge. Implementing a simulation model can also become a way of specifying the requirements for the hardware. Different use cases can be implemented and tested digitally instead of using hardware. This is a much better method and at the same time the method requiring the lowest cost and shortest time. A simulation model can also be preliminary approved by the vessel approval authority.

The final stage of building a vessel will then become the job of implementing something that is already tested and approved. This will require much less work and risk than what the case is today. Finally, a simulation model that is approved and representative of the hardware can be very useful for future autonomous operations and remote control. Instead of relying on distributing all data present in the vessel on wireless communication channels, a simulated model can also be the source of data for a remote operator. The data distribution system needs then primarily to make sure that all exceptions from a mission are reliably distributed from the control system to the remote operator.

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