Finding safe and efficient shipping routes in ice-covered waters: A framework and a model

V.V. Lehtola*, Jakub Montewka, Floris Goerlandt, Robert Guinness, Mikko Lensu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


Safety for conventional and autonomous navigation in ice-covered waters is a topic of rising importance. Here, we propose a generic extendable framework to provide the optimal route from multiple route planning objectives. These objectives are attained by an evaluation of multi-source input data, including state-of-the-art model data for ice conditions, for bathymetric knowledge, and for ship-ice interaction. Additionally, we model the ship-ship interactions statistically using a mean-field, to account for ships (indirectly) assisting each other via artificial ice channels. For the subsequent pathfinding problem, we propose a new A*-based algorithm that yields output which is not dependent on the grid format of the input data but instead consists of a path that follows the Earth's curvature. The outputs of the algorithm are a set of waypoints (representing the optimal route), the travel costs (expressed in time), and the additional travel cost estimates caused by route deviation, should the optimal route be altered in any way. The steaming speeds, the optimal route, and the deviation times are represented with two-dimensional (2D) maps. Finally, we provide a model implementation of our framework as a Matlab-package, ICEPATHFINDER, that is suitable for both operational and strategic ship route optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102795
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalCold Regions Science and Technology
Early online date5 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Geo-information
  • Ice navigation maritime safety
  • Multi-objective optimization
  • Pathfinding
  • Route optimization
  • 22/4 OA procedure


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