Ocean program – Intelligent marine assets technology theme

A scale model ship in a water tank
Ship performance evaluation using the NRC's Tow Tank facility in St. John's, NL
Ocean program – Intelligent marine assets technology theme

The intelligent marine assets technology theme within the NRC's Ocean program is to support the development of technologies to improve the performance of physical assets within Canada's waterways. Priority is given to the shipping and renewable energy sectors.

Research will concentrate on improving ship performance, finding more efficient and intelligent marine platforms (including aquaculture pens) and developing maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). An important aspect of our collaborative research will serve to improve and digitalize navigation tools, control centres, sensors and more to create low‑to no‑carbon shipping as well as advancing marine renewable technology.

Projects under this theme will aim to reduce operational costs for marine assets which directly correlates to a reduction in the environmental footprint. The NRC's own research will focus on technology development for operations related to cold and harsh environments, while collaborations will ensure full application in all environments for potential application globally. These activities will leverage the NRC's Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre's world‑class expertise in this area.

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us, making investments in this area, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Allison Kennedy
Senior Research Officer
Email: allison.kennedy@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Related links

Areas of focus

Improved operational performance of marine assets

A scale model ship, in waves

Much of Canada's economy depends on marine shipping, including international trade, fishing, oil and gas, and tourism. Our growing naval architecture and ship design sector includes Canadian companies building ice breakers, scientific vessels, tugboats, barges, and fishing and tourism boats.

The NRC's research in this area will focus on improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions from ships through better operational practices, new technologies and improved logistic systems.

Autonomous asset operation in harsh environments

A boat navigating in ice

As the world prepares for an increased interest in maritime autonomous surface ship (MASS) technologies, the NRC is at the forefront, focussing its research and development efforts to help position Canada as a global leader in this field.

Working in collaboration with partners, our research in this area will focus on understanding and improving the performance and safety of autonomous ships, particularly in ice and other harsh environments.

Long‑range environmental prediction and digitalized seaways

Representation of the St Lawrence river digital seaway

The NRC is championing the concept of Canada's digital seaway—a maritime transport route through Canada that is fully digitalized, using real‑time data on environmental conditions, vessel traffic, port and logistical information.

Research in this area will focus on developing tools such as AI‑supported predictive models and digital twins to improve navigation in harsh environments and collect and share real‑time data. These tools will help marine operators to make more informed decisions, and ultimately ensure the competitiveness of Canada's trade and supply routes.

Marine renewables in harsh environments

A wave

Canada could potentially generate enormous amounts of clean, renewable power by exploiting its vast wave, tidal and river hydrokinetic energy resources. The challenge for the marine energy sector in Canada is to transition quickly from successful technology demonstration to commercial viability.

Research in this area will focus on quantifying and mapping Canada's marine energy resources, improving performance and overcoming challenges such as cold‑weather operation.


The intelligent marine assets technology theme leverages the NRC's expertise in hydrodynamics, ice mechanics and forecasting, ice‑breaking technology, vessel operations in ice (including autonomous vessels), ship performance data analytics, and ship safety research.

Through this technology theme, our research and development activities aim to:

  • advance integration of sensors for ships in ice and harsh environments
  • enhance expertise in control systems for ships in ice
  • enhance tools for evaluation of ship design innovations (numerical, physical, and field work)
  • improve decision‑making tools for marine operations in ice and harsh environments
  • improve our understanding and knowledge base of marine energy resources across Canada
  • improve tools and expertise for ship performance optimization
  • improve tools for long‑range prediction of ice and waves
  • increase innovations to improve performance and/or lower costs of marine energy projects
  • validate and verify autonomous ship technologies performance and safety in ice and harsh environments

Intelligent marine assets projects

Projects listed under the intelligent marine assets technology theme are in various stages of development.