Zero-emission, autonomous ferries will offer sustainable transport to increase inhabitant mobility and meet environmental needs for cities and local communities, while opening new areas for sustainable infrastructure and housing development. Importantly, such ferries require little economic and ecological costs, especially when compared to, for example, road transport. One requirement for these ferries to create value is the buy-in of its passengers through trust, as mistrust or distrust will lead to the ferries not being used. Efforts to win passenger trust should be based on empirical knowledge and scientific evidence to ensure that the ferries and their infrastructure are designed to be fit-for-purpose and trustworthy. Such knowledge and evidence cannot be gathered from physical trials or operations alone due to their limitations and risks, but rather through rigorous testing and exploration of dynamic system behaviors using simulation technology.
The primary objective of SIMPLEX is thus to innovate a holistic and efficient test strategy with the integrated use of simulations for autonomous systems. The ultimate goal is to unlock and scale up the potentials of autonomous and sustainable transport solutions for other contexts and purposes. Specifically, SIMPLEX will use the real-life case of the Zeabuz transport concept and the pilot ferry Milliampere 2 owned by NTNU. This project will innovate processes for developing and validating fit-for-purpose simulators, improve methods and tools for automatic large-scale simulations, while securing the full benefits from the human-simulator interaction.
The innovation of this proposal concerns a holistic and efficient development, testing and verification strategy with the integrated use of simulations, deploying multiple test platforms combining multiple test methodologies. The main target is to build trust in the deployment of autonomous vessels into society.
Significant innovation is required to find a strategy for combining different test platforms and test methodologies in a structured and coordinated way. Simulations are an approximate representation of reality, and it is of critical importance that the simulations accurately represent the real world and captures all relevant interactions. The innovation comprises methods and processes for the development and validation of fit-for-purpose simulators to support the full test scope necessary to establish the required trust in the system.
Due to an infinite set of possible operating scenarios and the complexity both internally in autonomous vessel systems and in their external interactions with humans and the operative environment, the use of automatic large-scale simulations is necessary to obtain sufficient test coverage. Autonomous vessels will also be subject to continuous changes through e.g. software updates, and changes in their operating environment. The test scope will, therefore, need to continuously be kept up-to-date throughout its lifecycle. This makes test automation critical to enable continuous assurance of the system. The proposed innovation will therefore also include methodology to automate scenario generation and exploration, test evaluation, and test coverage assessment.