Pioneering the Future of Maritime Navigation with Danelec and DanPilot’s Remote Piloting Technology

  • Written by
    By Christian Kock, EVP Safety, Danelec
  • Published

In the ever-evolving maritime industry, where safety, efficiency, and sustainability are paramount, Danelec and DanPilot are leading the way. Thanks to new regulations passed on May 1st, we are now able to test and conduct thorough safety reviews of our advanced remote piloting solution in Danish waters. This enables us to pave the way for safer and greener shipping, transforming maritime operations through innovation and cutting-edge technology.

Enhancing Safety with Cutting-Edge Technology

Maritime piloting traditionally involves high risks, including the physical transfer of pilots to and from moving ships in challenging conditions. Our remote piloting technology eliminates the need for such hazardous transfers, significantly reducing the risks to pilot and crew safety. Pilots operate from the safety of the Nautical Control Center (NCC), enhancing operational security and safeguarding lives.

Boosting Efficiency while Ensuring Weather-Proof Operations

Remote piloting enables pilots to manage multiple vessels from a single location, significantly optimizing human resource utilization. More importantly, it facilitates a more collaborative approach to piloting, enhancing coordination and efficiency across operations. This is crucial in busy straits like the Great Belt and Øresund, where increased traffic can strain traditional piloting resources. With remote operations, pilots can quickly switch between vessels without the downtime associated with traveling to and from ships. This capability is essential for handling the expected rise in maritime traffic and for maintaining the flow of goods and services through these critical waterways.

One significant advantage of remote piloting is its resilience to adverse weather conditions, which often delay and can even prevent traditional pilot transfers. With pilots operating remotely, weather-related delays become a thing of the past, ensuring more predictable and timely ship movements. This reliability is crucial for maintaining schedules and reducing operational uncertainties, leading to more efficient port operations and enhanced supply chain continuity.

Economic and Environmental Gains

Traditional maritime piloting is not only hazardous but also resource-intensive. The process requires substantial human, financial, and environmental input. Each instance of pilot boarding necessitates the manoeuvring of the vessel to reduce its speed for safe transfer, a procedure that is notably fuel-intensive. By minimizing speed changes for pilot boarding and minimizing the use of pilot boats, remote piloting significantly lowers greenhouse gas emissions. The economic gains from reduced fuel consumption and streamlined operations are matched by the environmental benefits critical as the maritime industry seeks to meet stringent global emissions targets. 

Additionally, the logistical coordination of these transfers involves the use of pilot boats, which themselves consume considerable fuel and contribute to CO2 emissions. Onboard, the coordination effort is significant, typically involving three to five crew members who are responsible for rigging and securing the pilot ladder. This not only strains the vessel's operations but also impacts the rest and work schedules of the crew, adding to the overall demand of the operation.

Retaining Operational Integrity and Security

Danelec’s technology plays a crucial role in the DanPilot solution, collecting and transmitting crucial navigational data from ships to the NCC. The core of the remote piloting system starts with comprehensive data collection through Danelec’s advanced Vessel Remote Server (VRS) installed onboard, which captures navigational and operational data, a dataset identical to that collected by the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR). This includes crucial metrics such as position, speed, course, and radar images, providing a real-time overview of the vessel’s status. Utilizing VDR data is not only a key feature of our system but also a significant benefit given its reliability and the trust placed in it for incident investigations.

The data is collected through robust and secure systems that comply with international standards, guaranteeing both reliability and security in data transmission. Our onboard hardware and software hold cybersecurity certifications that meet applicable standards and conform to IACS E27 requirements. We utilize a cyber-secure, proprietary communication pipeline and protocol between the ship and the Nautical Control Center (NCC), ensuring the security of data transfers and preventing unauthorized access, thus guaranteeing the system’s reliability and operational integrity.

At the NCC, trained and experienced maritime pilots use the VDR data, visualized through Danelec’s proprietary VDR Explorer software, to assist the vessel's crew. The pilots have access to real-time data, which enables them to provide guidance and navigational support. This support includes route optimization, collision avoidance strategies, and advice on weather conditions.

Remote Navigational Assistance

A pivotal aspect of DanPilot’s remote piloting solution is its design to empower, not override, the decision-making capabilities of the onboard crew. The crew retains full control over the vessel, ensuring that the operational command remains securely onboard, thus significantly reducing the risk of external interference. The remote piloting solution enables efficient and clear communication between the ship's crew and shore-based pilots. Pilots can send navigational commands directly to the crew, who can quickly respond and implement the guidance.

At no point does the remote piloting solution take over the control to navigate the vessel. This approach not only upholds the principle of maritime sovereignty but also ensures that the expertise and situational awareness of the ship’s crew are augmented, not replaced. By maintaining this control within the hands of those on the vessel, Danelec and DanPilot ensure that the safety and operational integrity of maritime navigation are enhanced without compromising the autonomy of the crew.

Looking Towards the Future

The ongoing collaboration between Danelec and DanPilot has already seen significant advancements, with successful tests indicating that remote piloting is not just a concept but a soon-to-be reality. The next steps involve testing with pilots onboard but not on the bridge, moving towards full remote piloting.

As we advance in our joint journey with remote piloting technology, the commitment of Danelec and DanPilot to uphold the highest standards of safety, efficiency, and security remains steadfast. By integrating cutting-edge technology with robust security measures, we are setting a new standard for maritime operations that prioritizes the empowerment and safety of the crew while driving significant environmental and operational benefits. With each step, we are closer to transforming maritime navigation into a safer, more efficient, and sustainable practice, ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow's seas.

Get in-touch

Discover how remote piloting can transform your maritime operations. Contact Danelec today to explore our advanced technologies that enhance safety, efficiency, and sustainability. Let's set a new course towards innovative navigation solutions together.