Finland opens world’s first open test area for unmanned ships

Finland has continued to take determined steps towards becoming a global leader in developing unmanned shipping technologies.

Finland is on a steady course to become a global forerunner in the development of next-generation shipping solutions following the opening of a new test area for autonomous vessels and technologies outside Eurajoki, Western Finland, in mid-August.


The Jaakonmeri Test Area is the first test area in the world that is open to companies, research institutions and other interested organisations from around the globe.


The test area covers an open-water area of roughly 125 square kilometres. It is controlled and managed by DIMECC, the innovation platform co-ordinating the efforts to establish a co-creation ecosystem for autonomous maritime transport in the Baltic Sea by 2025.


The One Sea ecosystem has grown rapidly to encompass roughly 80 companies after its foundation in 2016 by ABB, Cargotec, Ericsson, Finnish Marine Industries, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes), Meyer Turku, Rolls-Royce, Tieto and Wärtsilä.


Rolls-Royce in March announced it will establish a research and development facility in Turku, South west Finland, to focus on the development of land-based control centres and the use of artificial intelligence in autonomous and remote-controlled shipping.


The facility and the co-creation ecosystem as a whole provide a competitive advantage to Finland, believes Arto Pussinen, the head of ICT and digitalisation at Finpro’s Invest in Finland.



Finland - global forerunner in the next-generation shipping solutions

“Global competition is admittedly fierce, but the investment and ecosystem are key preconditions for the country to become a leader in the development of unmanned ships. The test area will strengthen those preconditions further,” he says.


Pussinen reminds that autonomous ships and technologies have previously been tested in dubious, at times even dangerous, conditions. The Jaakonmeri Test Area, on the other hand, guarantees that such tests can be conducted in a way that is as safe as possible for not only those involved but also the environment.


Baltic Sea an ideal test environment

The Baltic Sea is an excellent environment for testing autonomous shipping technologies because of the challenges it presents: It is a shallow body of water with meandering shipping lanes and no shortage of perilous shoals where tests can be conducted also in icy winter conditions.


“It’s also situated close enough to the coast to make sure all wireless connections and sensors used for monitoring can be arranged easily and cost-efficiently,” adds Pussinen.


Finland, he reminds, is a great environment for both testing and developing autonomous shipping technologies due to the expertise it has in optical sensors, artificial intelligence, wireless communications, software development and the industrial internet.


“Finnish engineering workforce is cost-efficient and highly productive. It has a good price—quality ratio,” says Pussinen.


The Jaakonmeri Test Area can be used to conduct tests lasting from one to six weeks. Enquiries about the availability of the test area can be submitted electronically to DIMECC (https://oneseaecosystem.net/test-area/test-application/). Companies interested in joining the ever-growing ecosystem and establishing operations in Finland are also encouraged to contact:


Arto Pussinen

Mobile: +358 50 556 8320


Keijo Virtanen


Mobile: +358 50 524 7465







Image: Rolls-Royce