ARPA project supporting the development of smart shipping

ARPA project supporting the development of smart shipping


Digitalization and increased levels of autonomy in transport are expected to take leaps forward in the coming years. This development can help in creating sustainable, safer, more efficient, and more reliable service chains for a better quality of life and global prosperity.

As the most efficient long-distance transport method, sea transport is carrying about 90 % of the world trade. With the constantly growing maritime traffic, safety and security are becoming a key issue, to which autonomous operation of maritime vessels is globally recognized as a potential solution.

The Applied Research Platform for Autonomous Systems (ARPA) project is supporting the development of smart shipping and autonomous ships by creating public test platforms. This two-million-euro project funding provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture for so-called RDI profiling means we are focusing on autonomous systems at the strategic level in the future.

Better situational awareness and partly automated vessels will be important steps in the progress towards fully autonomous logistics. The road will be a long one and depend heavily on surrounding regulation processes as well.

To enable autonomous operations situational awareness methods for defining the shipping state, navigation, collision avoidance, wireless communication systems, sensors, and sensor fusion are required. The technologies needed for sufficient situational awareness for autonomous operations already exist: e.g. artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning in addition to sensor fusion. The challenge lies in how to utilize and combine these existing technologies.


We aim to provide high-quality open data that researchers and industry can utilize to develop methods for situational awareness for autonomous vessels and to develop decision-making algorithms. 


ARPA project will organize a fireside chat event in SHIFT with two Turku-based SMEs who have been successful in developing products for smart shipping.

Awake.AI wants to make ports smarter with AI. Maritime logistics congestion is higher and waiting times in ports are longer than ever before. At the same time, all stakeholders are increasingly required to take action to reduce emissions. The goal is to reduce the turn-around times of ships in the port by 20-30%. It reduces emissions and costs in the same proportion. The most effective way to do this is to optimize and automate port processes.

In 2020, Awake.AI released a situational awareness platform that brings together maritime logistics players. Last year, artificial intelligence-based port incident forecasting and planning services were launched. 

Groke Technologies released the first product, Groke Pro, in May 2022. It is intelligent navigation and situational awareness system that facilitates navigation in challenging weather conditions. It is a decision support system whose idea is to reduce the cognitive stress of the crew and make it easier for the persons to work on the bridge. 

The product brings together all the available status information for the ship. It utilizes, for example, camera systems, the ship’s radar data, and AIS data. The system creates an object map of where dynamic and static objects and ships are, how far they are, where they are moving, and what risk they pose to operating the ship. Groke Technologies Groke Pro system is capable of observing the environment and assisting the crew in navigational decisions.


ARPA project will organize a fireside chat at this year’s SHIFT event, where you’ll hear more details on these two success stories.


Also, join us at the Turku University of Applied Sciences booth where we will demonstrate ARPA project results! You’ll have also a chance to vote for a name for our new autonomous test boat which will be in operational use during summer 2023.


Mr. Jarkko Paavola

Dr. of Science in Tech., Executive Lecturer

Turku University of Applied Sciences