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Satellite Instead of Captain: Russia's First Unmanned Ferry Uses RSCC Communication Channels

Commercial operation of Russia's first unmanned ferry "General Chernyakhovsky" using RSCC communication channels started on the Ust-Luga - Kaliningrad sea line. The vessel travelled about 500 nautical miles using the autonomous navigation - a-Navigation - and arrived at the port on December 21, delivering socially minded cargoes to the Kaliningrad region. Today this route is a strategically significant Russian ferry line in the Baltic Sea, providing supplies to the Kaliningrad region from the mainland Russia and back, bypassing the third countries.

Communications on the vessel were established through the RSCC. Russian Satellite Communication Company, as a participant of the project, helped to determine the requirements for satellite and terrestrial data transmission channels, estimate channel capacity, test and configure equipment.

"The General Chernyakhovsky ferry communications project was unique and uncommon for us. For remote control of a vessel of such class with the length of about 200 m and taking into account the water area of its autonomous operation - in the Baltic Sea where the navigation is quite intensive within a relatively small area - a guaranteed high-speed satellite data transmission channel with availability of at least 99.9% is required. It is necessary to ensure the redundancy at all data transmission sections from the ferry's special equipment to the traffic control center in St. Petersburg. Though this task is rather complex, the RSCC was able to meet all these conditions," said Alexey Volin, Director General of RSCC.

For this purpose a satellite channel was established from the ferry with a bandwidth of 10Mbps and to it 2Mbps. to guarantee the quality and reliability of communications, two redundant channels each were provided using Express-AM6 and Express-AM44 satellites. Furthermore, a redundant terrestrial data transmission channel was established from CCS Dubna to the autonomous ship navigation control center in St. Petersburg.

RSCC has a vast experience in providing communication services for unmanned vessels - as far back as 2019 the company joined the pilot program of the industry center MARINET supervising the testing of the technology, including under this project. It is also being implemented under the auspices of FSUE Rosmorport and Sitronics Group. The ceremony that launched the operation of the new unmanned ferry was held on December 19 in Moscow at the international "Digital Transportation" forum.