With the increasing interest and expansion of autonomous shipping, China has begun building a testing area for these ships of the near future. The testing bed, located in Zhuhai, Guangdong will cover 225 nautical miles and will serve as a safe way to test out the new technology.

The Zhuhai facility is the first test-bed for the country with previous test-beds being built in Europe starting in September of 2016. Since that first test center in Trondheim Fjord, Norway, several others have been constructed to further test obstacle avoidance technology by the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Maritime Administration among others.

About the WanShan Marine Test Field

China’s test-bed will be the first in Asia and could become the most significant offshore testing ground for autonomous shipping vehicles in the world. It will serve as the country’s primary research facility on autonomous ships for the next three to five years. It is located in the South China Sea near Macau and Hong Kong’s high-volume shipping ports.

The test bed is a natural extension of the work that the country has already done. While construction started just a few weeks ago, China has already run its first tests on unmanned vehicles outside of the designated field, in the Pearl River Delta. Additionally, autonomous ships have been built for China for the past several years by the Wuhan University of Technology.

The field is made possible by an agreement between Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligence Technology, the Zhuhai government, China Classification Society, and the Wuhan University of Technology. This alliance was formed in 2017, spearheaded by the China Classification Society and HNA Technology Logistics. This association will be behind rules for technical products and will lead the charge on future endeavors in the unmanned ship industry in the country.