In this paper, a solution for estimating the relative position and orientation between two ships in six degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) using sensor fusion and an extended Kalman filter (EKF) approach is presented. Two different sensor types, based on time-of-flight and inertial measurement principles, were combined to create a reliable and redundant estimate of the relative motion between the ships. An accurate and reliable relative motion estimate is expected to be a key enabler for future ship-to-ship operations, such as autonomous load transfer and handling. The proposed sensor fusion algorithm was tested with real sensors (two motion reference units (MRS) and a laser tracker) and an experimental setup consisting of two Stewart platforms in the Norwegian Motion Laboratory, which represents an approximate scale of 1:10 when compared to real-life ship-to-ship operations.

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