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IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING 1
Experimental Evaluations on Ship Autonomous
Navigation and Collision Avoidance
by Intelligent Guidance
Lokukaluge P. Perera, Victor Ferrari, Fernando P. Santos, Miguel A. Hinostroza, and Carlos Guedes Soares
AbstractExperimental evaluations on autonomous navigation
and collision avoidance of ship maneuvers by intelligent guidance
are presented in this paper. These ship maneuvers are conducted
on an experimental setup that consists of a navigation and control
platform and a vessel model, in which the mathematical for-
mulation presented is actually implemented. The mathematical
formulation of the experimental setup is presented under three
main sections: vessel trafc monitoring and information system,
collision avoidance system, and vessel control system. The physical
system of the experimental setup is presented under two main
sections: vessel model and navigation and control platform. The
vessel model consists of a scaled ship that has been used in this
study. The navigation and control platform has been used to con-
trol the vessel model and that has been further divided under two
sections: hardware structure and software architecture. There-
fore, the physical system has been used to conduct ship maneuvers
in autonomous navigation and collision avoidance experiments.
Finally, several collision avoidance situations with two vessels are
considered in this study. The vessel model is considered as the
vessel (i.e., own vessel) that makes collision avoidance decisions/ac-
tions and the second vessel (i.e., target vessel) that does not take
any collision avoidance actions is simulated. Finally, successful
experimental results on several collision avoidance situations with
two vessels are also presented in this study.
Index TermsCollision avoidance system, decision support
system, intelligent guidance, ship collision avoidance, ship colli-
sion detection.
Manuscript received June 24, 2013; revised December 01, 2013; accepted
January 31, 2014. The work of L. P. Perera was supported by the Doctoral Fel-
lowship of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology under Con-
tract SFRH/BD/46270/2008. This work contributes to the project of Method-
ology for ships maneuverability tests with self-propelled models, which is sup-
ported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology under Con-
tract PTDC/TRA/74332/2006. This work was presented in part at the 32nd In-
ternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, Nantes,
France, June 914, 2013.
Associate Editor: K. Takagi.
L. Prasad Perera was with the Centre for Marine Technology and Engineering
(CENTEC), Instituto Superior Tcnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1049-
001, Portugal. He is now with Wrtsil Finland Oy, Turku FIN-20811, Finland
(e-mail: prasad.perera@mar.ist.utl.pt).
V. Ferrari is with the Centre for Marine Technology and Engineering
(CENTEC), Instituto Superior Tcnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1049-001,
Portugal and also with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN),
Wageningen 7608 PM, The Netherlands (e-mail: victor.ferrari@mar.ist.utl.pt).
F. P. Santos, M. A. Hinostroza, and C. Guedes Soares are with the
Centre for Marine Technology and Engineering (CENTEC), Instituto
Superior Tcnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1049-001, Portugal
(e-mail: fernando.santos@mar.ist.utl.pt; miguel.hinostroza@mar.ist.utl.pt;
guedess@mar.ist.utl.pt).
Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online
at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
I. INTRODUCTION
A. Maritime Safety
C
ONGESTED sea routes and various offshore operations
enforce ships to make close encounter maneuvers, which
may lead to some high-risk collision and near-collision situa-
tions. However, these issues can be countered by introducing
safety training and safe ship handling procedures in the shipping
industry. Even though these trainings and procedures associated
with navigators experience could play an important role in safe
ship navigation, they could also have some limitations due to
human and economical constrains. Furthermore, even a well-
trained and experienced navigator can make wrong navigation
judgments, which can result in ship collisions with human ca-
sualties and environmental disasters. For example, even the de-
cision-making process of an experienced navigator could be af-
fected by unexpected situations with instrumentation and com-
munication failures and losing vessel maneuverability condi-
tions under various speed and environmental conditions.
Therefore, as initiated by e-navigation [1], appropriate navi-
gation aids should be facilitated to achieve the required safety
levels in the shipping industry. The concept of e-navigation is
introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
and the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities
(IALA) [2] for integrating present navigation technologies
and introducing intelligent decision support capabilities to
limit human subjective factors in the shipping industry. Fur-
thermore, various studies to create next-generation command,
communication, and control platforms that enhance wireless
monitoring and control functions, including advanced decision
support facilities to operate ships remotely under semi or fully
autonomous conditions, have also been proposed [3]. There-
fore, the main contribution in this study is also to support the
concept of e-navigation by providing experimental results on
ship autonomous navigation and collision avoidance based on
intelligent guidance as further described in this paper.
B. Ship Interactions
In general, ship collision avoidance can be categorized under
two types of environmental conditions [4]: the coastal phase
and the oceanic phase. The coastal phase consists of collision
avoidance among vessels in conned waters, and the oceanic
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2 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
phase consists of collision avoidance among vessels in open sea
areas. The coastal phase comprises several navigation aids such
as trafc channels for highly dense maritime trafc regions and
navigation guidance from ashore-based maritime trafc control
stations [5], [6]. However, these navigation aids in the ocean
phase have limited facilities; therefore, onboard decision sup-
port systems based on intelligent guidance should be developed
as proposed in this study.
Furthermore, collision avoidance in the ocean phase can
be divided into two categories: long-range and close-prox-
imity collision avoidance. Long-range collision avoidance is
facilitated by the current law of the sea, the Convention on
the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
(COLREGs) [7], formulated by the IMO. The reported data
on ship collisions show that 56% of major maritime collisions
involve violation of the COLREGs rules and regulations [8].
However, collision avoidance in close-proximity conditions is
not facilitated by such rules and regulations, but the navigators
knowledge and experience can play an important role in those
situations. Therefore, the maintenance of safe distance among
vessels and other obstacles plays the most important role in
improving ship safety in close-proximity conditions. This safe
distance keeping among vessels, especially in overtakes and
head-on situations, is also emphasized by the COLREGs [7],
[9].
However, in close-proximity conditions, vessel-to-vessel
interaction forces and moments are highly activated, and that
could also be affected by vessels orientations. These forces
and moments could also result in involuntary course and speed
changes, and that could eventually lead to various ship collision
and near-miss situations. Therefore, these conditions have
been extensively studied in the recent literature, as further
discussed in this section. A simulation model of two ships
passing under vessel-to-vessel interaction forces and moments
on constant parallel course is presented in [10]. However, these
vessel-to-vessel interactions may complicate ship navigation
in a narrow channel [11] under vessel trafc [10], [12] and
in shallow-water conditions [13], where bank effects, and
weather and environmental conditions can also be inuential.
Therefore, ship behavior under these interaction forces and
moments should be further considered to avoid collision and
near-collision situations under close-proximity conditions in
ship navigation.
The vessel-to-vessel interaction forces in surge and sway may
cause vessels to either attract or repulse from each other, and
the yaw moments may cause them to either rotate toward or
away fromeach other. However, these hydrodynamic forces and
moments could also be affected by several factors: size, lateral
and longitudinal separation distance, speeds, wetted hull shapes
of the vessels, water depth and transverse distances from the
channel banks when the vessels are close to shore, and weather
conditions [14], [15]. These vessel interaction forces and mo-
ments have been calculated by several numerical methods in
the recent literature. Methods for calculation of sway force and
yaw moments for two vessels moving under close proximity in
deep-water and shallow-water conditions are presented by Tuck
and Newman [16] and Yeung [17], respectively. Other numer-
ical methods for predicting such forces and moments for two
vessels moving under close proximity are also presented by
Huang and Chen [18], Sutulo and Guedes Soares [19], Xiang
and Faltinsen [20], King [21], Varyani and Krishnankutty [22]
Xu et al. [23], Sutulo et al. [24], and Zhou et al. [25]. A theo-
retical method to predict the sinkage and trim conditions of two
moving vessels under parallel meeting and overtaking condi-
tions is presented by Gourlay [26]. Therefore, the possible ac-
tions against these vessel interaction forces and moments should
be executed by the navigators as early as possible to avoid close
encounter situations in ship navigation.
C. Ship Collision Avoidance
Decision-making processes in ship collision avoidance are
presented in various studies [27][29]. Furthermore, several
studies have been dedicated to the subject of collision avoid-
ance maneuvers based on the following concepts: a clustered
group of ships under close-proximity conditions [30]; state,
parameter, and action optimization conditions [31][34];
safe navigational trajectories/routes selections [35][40];
case-based reasoning [41]; intelligent anticollision algorithms
[42]; articial force elds [43], [44]; fuzzy-logic-based systems
[45][48]; IFTHEN-logic-based systems [49]; neurofuzzy
networks [50]; and line of sight counteractions [51]. However,
one should note that none of the above literature has presented
proper collision avoidance experimental results, which in turn
are the main contribution of this study.
Therefore, this study proposes intelligent guidance for ship
collision avoidance in e-navigation environment, which has
been initiated in [52][56]. Furthermore, the proposed approach
has been evaluated under an experimental setup, and the results
on several collision avoidance situations of two vessels by
means of autonomous maneuvers are also presented in this
study.
The experimental setup consists of a navigation and control
platform, and a vessel model that is presented in a mathemat-
ical formulation as well as in an actual implementation. The
navigation and control platform consists of controlling the ship
model in autonomous and manual modes. The vessel model is
used to create several collision avoidance situations and that
is supported by an intelligent-guidance-based collision avoid-
ance system. The proposed collision avoidance system capa-
bilities of making multiple parallel collision avoidance deci-
sions regarding several vessel collision situations are also illus-
trated. However, those decisions are executed as sequential ac-
tions to avoid complex collision situations in ship navigation in
long-distance as well as in close-proximity conditions, which is
discussed further.
II. MATHEMATICAL FORMULATION
A proposed mathematical formulation for ship navigation
(i.e., autonomous navigation and collision avoidance) is pre-
sented in Fig. 1. It consists of three main systems: the vessel
trafc monitoring and information system (VTMIS), the col-
lision avoidance system (CAS), and the vessel control system
(VCS).
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PERERA et al.: EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATIONS ON SHIP AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE 3
Fig. 1. Mathematical formulation for ship navigation.
A. Vessel Trafc Monitoring and Information System
The VTMIS facilitates by providing ship trafc information
(i.e., ships position, course, speed, acceleration, and trajectory
conditions) which can be used for autonomous navigation pur-
poses as well as for collision avoidance among ships. Besides a
scan sensor (i.e., radar/laser sensor), there are three main mod-
ules: vessel detection and tracking (VDT), vessel state estima-
tion and trajectory prediction (VSETP), and intervessel commu-
nication (IVC).
A scan sensor is used for detecting vessel positions. An ar-
ticial neural network (ANN)-based multivessel detection and
tracking process has been implemented on the VDT module. It
detects and tracks ships navigating in the scan sensor vicinity.
An extended Kalman lter (EKF)-based vessel state estimation
(i.e., position, velocity, and acceleration) and navigational tra-
jectory prediction process has been implemented on the VSETP
module. This process is executed under the information given by
the VDT module. The vessel trafc information (i.e., ship posi-
tion, course, speed, etc.) transfers among ships and shore-based
maritime authorities and that could be managed by the IVC
module through a wireless network. An extensive study on the
VTMIS considered in this paper is presented in [6].
B. Collision Avoidance System
The CAS generates collision avoidance decisions/actions in
a sequential format that can be executed in ship navigation. It
is expected to have this system installed onboard a vessel that
is called as the own vessel for the autonomous navigation
and collision avoidance experiments. As presented in Fig. 1,
the CAS consists of four modules: own-vessel communication
(OVC), parallel decision making (PDM), sequential action for-
mation (SAF), and collision risk assessment (CRA).
The OVC module facilitates the communication of naviga-
tion information among ships and VTMISs. Such data are used
by the PDM module to make collision avoidance decisions. The
PDM module consists of a fuzzy-logic-based decision-making
process that generates parallel collision avoidance decisions
with respect to each ship that is under collision course with the
own vessel. Furthermore, that creates course and speed change
decisions for the own vessel, upon which decisions transfer to
the SAF module to create proper collision avoidance actions.
The rules, regulations, and expert navigational knowledge
proposed by the COLREGs have been considered in the imple-
mentation of the PDM module. An extensive discussion on this
module is presented in [54] and [56].
The CRA module evaluates the collision risk and the ex-
pected time until collision of each ship with respect to the own
vessel based on navigation information from the OVC module.
The evaluated collision risk information is transferred to the
SAF module to arrange collision avoidance actions appropri-
ately. An extensive discussion of the CRA module is presented
in [57] and [58].
The SAF module converts the parallel collision avoidance
decisions that are initially generated by the PDM module into
sequential actions, considering the time until collision for each
collision situation estimated by the CRA module. An extensive
discussion on the SAF module is presented in [55] and [56].
Finally, the sequential collision avoidance actions that are orga-
nized by the SAF module are shared with the VCS.
These actions can be categorized into two sets, course and
speed controls, that will be implemented on the own vessel.
The course and speed control collision avoidance actions with
respect to each collision situation are executed under two sub-
systems: the steering control subsystem (SCS) and the speed
control subsystem (SPS). The SCS and the SPS control ship
course and speed conditions, respectively. An overview of the
collision avoidance decision/action execution process under the
PDMand SAF modules is discussed further in Sections II-Cand
II-D.
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4 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
Fig. 2. PDM module.
C. Parallel Decision Making Module
The PDM module consists of three main units (see Fig. 2):
fuzzication, fuzzy rules, and defuzzication. The inputs of the
OVCmodule, namely, range, bearing, course, and speed of other
vessels (i.e., target vessels) for which there are collision courses
with the own vessel at their respective instants, are fuzzied in
the fuzzication unit.
Accordingly, the following input fuzzy membership func-
tions (FMFs) are considered: range FMF, speed ratio FMF,
bearing FMF, and relative course FMF. Afterwards, the fuzzi-
ed results are transferred into the fuzzy rules unit for further
analysis. Mamdani type IFTHEN rules are developed and
inference via MinMax norm is considered in the fuzzy rules
unit. As mentioned before, the IFTHEN fuzzy rules are devel-
oped in accordance with the COLREGs rules and regulations.
However, expert navigational knowledge is also considered in
the fuzzy rules development process.
The course and speed change decisions to avoid the target
vessels that have collision course with the own vessel are
generated by the defuzzication unit. The inference results
from the fuzzy rules unit are defuzzied by considering the
following output FMFs: course change FMF and speed change
FMF. These FMFs generate course and speed change decisions
that will be executed for collision avoidance in the own vessel.
An extensive discussion on fuzzication, fuzzy rules, and
defuzzication related to the present approach is presented in
[54] and [56].
Fig. 3. SAF module.
D. Sequential Action Formulation Module
The SAF module that is modeled as a Bayesian network con-
sists of four nodes/units (see Fig. 3): time until collision estima-
tion (TUCE), collision risk estimation (CRE), collision avoid-
ance action formulation (CAAF), and action delay. The main
objective of the SAF module is to transform the parallel colli-
sion avoidance decisions that are generated by the PDM module
into sequential actions that should be executed in the own vessel.
This can be achieved by collecting the collision avoidance de-
cisions and evaluating them using the time until collision with
respect to each vessel that has collision course with the own
vessel. Then, the nal results (i.e., collision avoidance actions)
are arranged as a sequential formation involving the course and
speed change actions at the respective instants.
The inputs of the SAF module are the collision decisions and
the collision risk generated by the PDM and CRA modules, re-
spectively. The main objectives of the TUCEand CREnodes are
to estimate the time until collision and the collision risk between
the own and target vessels, respectively. The actions delay is de-
signed to formulate the appropriate time interval for executing
the speed and course change actions to avoid each collision sit-
uation.
Therefore, the vessel collision avoidance actions are formu-
lated by the CAAF node, and that is affected by the action delay
and the CRE nodes, as presented in Fig. 3. Such actions can
be divided into two sections: course and speed change actions
which are initially generated as the collision avoidance deci-
sions from the PDM module. Finally, these accumulated ac-
tions are implemented in the VCS of the own vessel for col-
lision avoidance among vessels. An extensive discussion on the
Bayesian-network-based sequential collision avoidance action
formulation is presented in [55] and [56]. The decisions/actions
that need to be taken by the own vessel to avoid various colli-
sion situations are summarized in Table I.
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PERERA et al.: EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATIONS ON SHIP AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE 5
TABLE I
COLLISION AVOIDANCE DECISIONS/ACTIONS
Fig. 4. Ship model in autonomous navigation and collision avoidance maneu-
vers.
III. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP
The experimental setup, which is further discussed in this
section, consists of a navigation and control platform, and the
vessel model. This model consists of a scaled ship that has
been used in this study; and the navigation and control plat-
form has been used for autonomous and manual control of the
vessel model. Therefore, the setup has been used to conduct ship
maneuvers in autonomous navigation and collision avoidance
experiments. The proposed CAS is implemented on the vessel
model, which is considered as the own vessel.
A. Vessel Model
The vessel model considered in this study is presented in
Fig. 4 and its characteristics are as follows: overall length of
2.590 m; length between perpendiculars of 2.450 m; breadth
equal to 0.430 m; depth of 0.198 m; and estimated trail draft
and displacement of 0.145 m and 115.6 kg, respectively. The
vessel model is built in single skin glass reinforced polyester
with plywood framings and that is controlled by the navigation
and control platform, which can be divided into two sections:
hardware structure and software architecture.
Fig. 5. Command and monitoring unit.
B. Hardware Structure
The hardware structure consists of all sensors and actuators
that are used in the navigation and control platform. This struc-
ture is further divided into the following two units: the command
and monitoring unit (CMU) and the communication and con-
trol unit (CCU). The main objective of the CMU is to facilitate
manual and autonomous control of the vessel model provided
by the humanmachine interface (HMI), as presented in Fig. 5.
The CCU is implemented on a shore-based station and that con-
sists of several instrumentations such as a laptop computer, a
Global Positioning System (GPS) unit, and an industrial WiFi
unit.
A laptop computer, used as HMI, is connected to an indus-
trial WiFi unit for communicating with the CCU. The computer
works as a data display interface as well as an automatic
and manual control unit for the vessel model. Furthermore,
the above discussed VTMIS is implemented on the laptop
computer under MATLAB/LABVIEW software. The VTMIS
is simulated to obtain the target vessel behavior that is in a
collision course with the vessel model (i.e., own vessel). The
data are forwarded to the CAS for collision avoidance deci-
sions/actions. One should note that the CAS is implemented on
the vessel model (i.e., own vessel).
The GPS unit is used in the CMU for position measurements
of the vessel model. The complete GPS system has two units,
namely, a base station and a rover station which improve the po-
sition accuracy of the vessel model. The base GPS station unit
acts as a stationary reference that transmits known stationary
position correction signals for the rover GPS station which is
located in the ship model. The WiFi unit is used for communi-
cation between the ashore-based CMU and the onboard CCU.
The proposed CCU is implemented on the vessel model as
presented in Fig. 6. The main objective of the CCU is to execute
the fuzzy-Bayesian-based decision/action execution process
(i.e., the CAS), as described in Section II. That is associated
with the course and speed change actions and is facilitated
by the following instrumentation: two CompacRIO units, an
industrial Ethernet switch (IES), a laptop computer, a GPS unit,
an inertial measurement system (IMS), a WiFi unit, and two
direct current (dc) motors.
Two CompactRIOs with input/output (I/O) modules are used
in the CCU. One collects digital data from the IMS and GPS
units. Other unit is connected to the steering and speed control
subsystems of the vessel model to control the actuations of the
rudder and propeller assembled to two dc motors. Furthermore,
both CompactRIOs are connected through the IES.
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6 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
Fig. 6. Communication and control unit.
Fig. 7. Trajectories of collision situation I.
The laptop computer in the vessel model is used to record
and store the digital data collected from the IMS and GPS units
through the IES connected to the CompactRIO. Another on-
board GPS unit is used in the CCU to accurately estimate the
position of the vessel model as discussed previously. The IMS
unit consists of the following sensors: a magnetometer, an ac-
celerometer, rate gyro, and a GPS receiver. The IMS is capable
of measuring the following: three-axes angles of heading, roll,
and pitch; three-axes angular velocities of heading, roll, and
pitch; and three-axes linear accelerations of surge, sway, and
heave. The internal GPS receiver in the IMS unit measures the
vessel model position facilitated with WAAS capabilities. The
IES is used in the CCU as a communication gateway among
sensors, actuators, and CompactRIO units.
Furthermore, the above discussed CAS is implemented on the
laptop under MATLAB/LABVIEW software. The CAS formu-
lates the collision avoidance actions that are based on the target
vessel collision course and speed information that is given by
the shore-based VTMIS (i.e., other laptop computer). Another
WiFi unit is used for communication between the ashore-based
CMU and the onboard CCU connected through the IES.
The proposed vessel model has two control subsystems in-
corporated: the steering control subsystem (SCS) and the speed
control subsystem (SPS). The SCS is associated to the rudder
control system, and its main objective is to maintain the appro-
priate vessel course during its maneuvers. The SPS is associ-
ated to the propeller control system, and its main objective is
to maintain appropriate vessel speed during its maneuvers. The
proportionalintegralderivative (PID) controllers are used for
both propeller revolutions per minute (RPM) and rudder posi-
tions controls. The course and speed change collision avoidance
actions that are generated by the CAS are executed in these sub-
systems.
C. Software Architecture
The software architecture in this experimental platform is
mainly developed under LABVIEW and MATLAB programs
consisting of several loops: a eld-programmable gate array
(FPGA) loop, a real-time control loop, a CAS loop, and a
TCP/IP loop. The FPGA loop aims at collecting data from
the sensors (i.e., GPS and IMS units) and controlling the ac-
tuations of the steering and speed subsystems that have been
programmed under LABVIEW.
The associated PIDcontrollers for the steering and speed con-
trol subsystems are implemented under a real-time control loop
(i.e., the internal deterministic control loop) that has the highest
responsiveness, determinism, and priority with comparison to
other software loops. The data processing and record saving for
the respective sensors are implemented under the internal non-
deterministic loop that has lower priority in comparison to the
deterministic control loop.
The CAS loop consists of the proposed fuzzy-Bayesian-based
decision/action execution process for collision avoidance
among vessels, generating required collision avoidance actions
for the vessel model with respect to the simulated target vessel,
with which it is in a collision course. These actions are executed
under the real-time control loop associated with the steering
and speed control subsystems on the vessel model. The TCP/IP
loop is related to the communication between shore-based
CMU and the VTMIS, being implemented under wireless com-
munication through the industrial WiFi unit. Furthermore, an
extensive discussion on the experimental platform is presented
in [59] and [60].
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PERERA et al.: EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATIONS ON SHIP AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE 7
Fig. 8. Vessels positions, speed, and course control of collision situation I.
IV. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
The collision avoidance experiments were conducted on the
lake of Campo Grande in Lisbon, Portugal. These experi-
ments involved various autonomous maneuvers and collision
avoidance situations by the vessel model. The collision avoid-
ance experiments were conducted on the ship model with the
onboard CAS, as described in Section II. However, a scaled ver-
sion of the CAS has been used during these experiments due to
the practical difculties (i.e., wind and wave conditions) faced
by the vessel model. Furthermore, the vessel model position
data were collected from the GPS system that has two units (i.e.,
a base station and a rover station) due to its higher accuracy (i.e.,
1 cm). However, the additional sensor data (i.e., IMS sensor)
have encountered lower accuracy due to the sensor noise and
slow speed conditions of the vessel model.
The vessel model with the CAS was represented as the own
vessel, and a target vessel in a collision course with the own
vessel was simulated. However, it was observed that the formu-
lation of a collision situation between two ships is extremely
difcult to achieve due to the ship model sudden course change
and speed variations caused by the wind and wave conditions.
Therefore, an additional algorithm was developed to simulate
the target vessel maneuvers.
This target vessel algorithm consists of the following sequen-
tial steps: the initial target vessel position should be assigned
near the own vessel navigation route; then, the algorithmcreates
proper collision course between the own and target vessels by
Fig. 9. Trajectories of collision situation II.
considering various target vessel course conditions. As an ex-
ample, the target vessel course changes from 0 to 360 with 1
intervals under the speed condition that is approximated to the
own vessel speed; when the algorithm nds a collision course
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8 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
Fig. 10. Vessels positions, speed, and course control of collision situation II.
between the two vessels during such course changes, it executes
that course with the appropriate speed conditions as the target
vessel. Consequently, this target vessel algorithm generates an
appropriate collision situation between both vessels, and that in-
formation is forwarded to the CAS. Therefore, the own vessel
takes appropriate decisions/actions to avoid the collision situa-
tion.
Several collision situations were created by the proposed
target vessel algorithm, and the appropriate actions taken by
the vessel model were observed under such conditions. The
CAS was implemented on the laptop computer onboard the
own vessel, as described in Section II. It is assumed that the
target vessel is moving at constant speed and course conditions
and does not honor any navigational rules and regulations
(i.e., COLREGs). One should note that such speed and course
conditions are considered in these experiments to keep the
consistence in the collision situation between two vessels [56].
A. Collision Situation I
The rst set of experimental results of a collision situation be-
tween two vessels is presented in Figs. 7 and 8. As presented in
Fig. 7, the vessel model (i.e., own vessel) and the target vessel
start to navigate from the positions (0 [m], 0 [m]) and (10 [m],
20 [m]), respectively. One should note that the spiral section of
the target vessel trajectory, which is near its initial position, rep-
Fig. 11. Trajectories of collision situation III.
resents the algorithm that has been used to capture the collision
course between two vessels, as described previously.
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PERERA et al.: EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATIONS ON SHIP AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE 9
Fig. 12. Vessels positions, speed, and course control of collision situation III.
As presented in Fig. 7, the vessel model (i.e., the own vessel)
has observed a possible collision situation in which the target
vessel is approaching for a crossing situation from starboard.
One should note that in accordance with the COLREGs rules
and regulations the vessel model is in a give way situation, in
which it has lower priority for navigation in a collision situation,
and the target vessel is in a stand on situation. Therefore, the
early collision avoidance actions to avoid the collision situations
are executed by the vessel model. The respective own and target
vessel coordinates with respect to time are presented in
the top plots of Fig. 8. The collision avoidance decisions (see
Table I) of altering course to starboard and increasing speed at
the rst stage, altering course to port and increasing speed at the
second stage, altering course to starboard and increasing speed
at the third stage, which have been taken by the ship model, are
presented in the bottom plots of Fig. 8.
B. Collision Situation II
The second set of experimental results of a collision situation
with two vessels is presented in Figs. 9 and 10. The vessel model
and the target vessel start to navigate from the positions (0 [m],
0 [m]) and (20 [m], 10 [m]), respectively. As presented in Fig. 9,
the vessel model (i.e., the own vessel) has observed a possible
collision situation in which the target vessel is approaching for
a crossing situation from port. With respect to the COLREGs
rules and regulations, the vessel model is in a stand on situ-
ation, thus it has higher priority for navigating, and the target
Fig. 13. Trajectories of collision situation IV.
vessel is in a give way situation, meaning a lower priority for
navigating in a collision situation. Since the target vessel has the
give way situation and the vessel does not take any actions to
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10 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
Fig. 14. Vessels positions, speed, and course control of collision situation IV.
avoid the collision situation, the vessel model is forced to take
appropriate actions in that sense.
It must be noted that the own vessel in a give way situa-
tion takes collision avoidance actions earlier than in a stand
on situation. In this context, the distance between two ves-
sels has been considered for the decision-making process in
the CAS. Therefore, the vessel in a stand on situation could
make crash-stop type maneuvers to avoid a collision situation
due to inadequate actions from the target vessel. These situa-
tions have been categorized as critical collision conditions, and
above discussed concepts have been adopted by the CAS, as
further described in [48]. The respective own and target vessel
coordinates with respect to time are presented in the top
plots of Fig. 10. The collision avoidance decisions (see Table I)
of altering course to starboard and reducing speed in the rst
stage and altering course to starboard and increasing speed at
the second stage that have been taken by the vessel model are
presented in the bottom plots of Fig. 10.
C. Collision Situation III
The third set of experimental results of a collision situation
with two vessels is presented in Figs. 11 and 12. The vessel
model and the target vessel start to navigate from the positions
(0 [m], 0 [m]) and ( 10 [m], 20 [m]), respectively. As pre-
sented in Fig. 11, the vessel model (i.e., the own vessel) has ob-
served a possible collision situation in which the target vessel
is approaching for a head-on collision situation from starboard.
Fig. 15. Trajectories of collision situation V.
However, the target vessel does not take any action in this close
encounter situation; therefore, the vessel model is forced to take
appropriate actions to avoid the collision situation. Even though
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PERERA et al.: EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATIONS ON SHIP AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE 11
Fig. 16. Vessels positions, speed, and course control of collision situation V.
the vessels should pass port to port in a head-on collision situ-
ation in accordance with the COLREGs [7], [9], this close en-
counter situation with an altering course to starboard by the own
vessel could increase the collision risk. Therefore, this safe dis-
tance keeping among vessels, especially in close encounter sit-
uations, is emphasized by the COLREGs and is implemented
by the vessel model in this situation. The respective own and
target vessel coordinates with respect to time are presented
in the top plots of Fig. 12. The collision avoidance decisions (see
Table I) of altering course to port and increasing speed taken by
the own vessel are presented in the bottom plots of Fig. 12.
D. Collision Situation IV
The fourth set of experimental results of a collision situation
with two vessels is presented in Figs. 13 and 14. The vessel
model and the target vessel start to navigate from the positions
(0 [m], 0 [m]) and (10 [m], 20 [m]), respectively. As presented
in Fig. 13, the vessel model (i.e., the own vessel) has observed
a possible collision situation in which the target vessel is ap-
proaching for a crossing situation from starboard. According to
the COLREGs rules and regulations, the own and target vessels
are in give way and stand on situations, respectively. There-
fore, the early collision avoidance actions to avoid the collision
situations are executed by the vessel model. The respective own
and target vessel coordinates with respect to time are pre-
sented in the top plots of Fig. 14.
The collision avoidance decisions (see Table I) of altering
course to starboard and increasing speed at the rst stage, al-
tering course to port and increasing speed at the second stage,
and altering course to starboard and increasing speed at the third
stage, which have been taken by the own vessel, are presented in
the bottomplots of Fig. 14. Considerable similarities can also be
noted on the collision avoidance actions executed by the vessel
model in the collision situations I and IV.
E. Collision Situation V
The fth set of experimental results of a collision situation
with two vessels is presented in Figs. 15 and 16. The vessel
model and the target vessel start to navigate from the positions
(0 [m], 0 [m]) and (30 [m], 10 [m]), respectively. As presented in
Fig. 15, the vessel model (i.e., own vessel) has observed a pos-
sible collision situation in which the target vessel is approaching
for a head-on collision situation from port.
However, the target vessel does not take any action in this
close encounter situation, therefore the ship model is forced to
take appropriate actions to avoid the collision situation. Even
though the vessels should pass in port to port in a head-on col-
lision situation in accordance with the COLREGs [7], [9], this
close encounter situation with altering course to starboard by
the own vessel could also increase the collision risk. Therefore,
the safe distance keeping among vessels, especially in close
encounter situations, is emphasized by the COLREGs and is
also considered in this situation. The respective own and target
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12 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING
TABLE II
APPROACHES FOR POSSIBLE COLLISIONS AND RESPECTIVE COLREGS RULES AND REGULATIONS
TABLE III
SHIP MODEL COURSE AND SPEED COLLISION AVOIDANCE DECISIONS
vessel coordinates with respect to time are presented in
the top plots of Fig. 16. The collision avoidance decisions (see
Table I) of altering course to port and increasing speed at the
rst stage and altering course to starboard and increasing speed
at the second stage, which have been taken by the ship model,
are presented in the bottom plots of Fig. 16.
In the experimental results, one can observe ve possible col-
lision situations that the vessel model (i.e., the own vessel) has
identied. This is resumed in Table II along with the proper
COLREGs rules and regulations for the vessel model and the
target vessel. It is assumed that the target vessel does not honor
any navigational rules and regulations (i.e., COLREGs). Even
though the purpose of these experiments is for the vessel model
to always take appropriate collision avoidance actions, the fact
is that in some situations the own vessel may not be the one
who has the priority to take collision avoidance actions in the
rst place, according to the COLREGs rules and regulations.
These collision avoidance actions with respect to the COLREGs
rules and regulations have been summarized in Table II, and the
action stages that have been executed by the vessel model are
summarized in Table III for each situation.
V. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
Experimental evaluations on several collision avoidance sit-
uations between two vessels have been presented in this study.
Considering the experimental results, it can be concluded
that the ship model has taken appropriate collision avoidance
decisions and actions to reduce the collision risk between
both vessels. Therefore, the reported successful experimental
results using a vessel model show the superior capabilities of
the proposed intelligent-guidance-based collision avoidance
system, and this is the main contribution of this study.
Furthermore, the tools and techniques presented in the study
can be used for the e-navigation strategy, in which one could
introduce autonomous navigation and collision avoidance func-
tionalities in the shipping industry. However, the implementa-
tion of collision detection and avoidance among multiple ves-
sels in the experimental platform is still a challenge for the fu-
ture, where the proposed system should be further developed.
Therefore, a complete version of the proposed collision detec-
tion and avoidance under multivessel situations will be a further
development of this study.
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Lokukaluge Prasad Perera received the B.Sc. and
M.Sc. degrees in mechanical engineering from Okla-
homa State University, Stillwater, OK, USA, in 1999
and 2001, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in naval
architecture and marine engineering from the Tech-
nical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, in 2012.
He has won Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellow-
ships from the Portuguese Foundation for Science
and Technology in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
Currently, he is a Development Engineer at Wrtsil
Finland Oy, Turku, Finland. His research interests are
in maritime systems, instrumentation, guidance and control, condition-based
monitoring, energy efciency, and emission control, safety, risk, and reliability.
Victor Ferrari received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees
in naval architecture and marine engineering from
the University of Genoa, Genova, Italy, in 2006 and
2009, respectively. He is currently working toward
the Ph.D. degree in naval architecture and marine
engineering at the Centre for Marine Technology and
Engineering (CENTEC), Instituto Superior Tcnico,
Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
In 2011 and 2012, he was a Research Assistant at
CENTEC. He is currently Project Manager for Ships
Maneuvering at the Maritime Research Institute
Netherlands (MARIN), Wageningen, The Netherlands. His research interests
are in ship maneuvering and control.
Fernando P. Santos received the Degree and the
M.Sc. degree in mechanical engineering from the In-
stituto Superior Tcnico (IST), University of Lisbon,
Lisbon, Portugal and from the Faculty of Science
and Technology, Universidade Nova de Lisboa,
Lisbon, Portugal, in 2002 and 2012, respectively.
He also completed an Advanced Training Diploma
in Risk Assessment, Safety and Reliability at IST in
2007.
He is a Research Assistant in the Centre for Marine
Technology and Engineering (CENTEC), IST and is
nowconducting doctoral studies on modeling and optimization of offshore wind
systems reliability and maintenance.
Miguel A. Hinostroza graduated in mechatronics
engineering from the Universidad Nacional de
Ingenieria (UNI), Lima, Peru, in 2012. Currently,
he is working toward the M.S. degree in naval
architecture and marine engineering at the Centre for
Marine Technology and Engineering (CENTEC),
Instituto Superior Tcnico, Technical University of
Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.
At CENTEC, he is working on ship dynamics and
controls.
Carlos Guedes Soares received the M.S. and Ocean
Engineer degrees from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, in 1976,
the Ph.D. degree from the Norwegian Institute of
Technology, Trondheim, Norway, in 1984, and
the Doctor of Science degree from the Technical
University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, in 1991.
He is a Professor of Naval Architecture and Marine
Engineering and President of the Centre for Marine
Technology and Engineering (CENTEC), a research
center of the Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon,
Portugal, which is recognized and funded by the Portuguese Foundation for
Science and Technology.