ABS maps pathway to autonomous ship operation

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 09 April 2020

ShipInsight


US classification society ABS has published guidance on the journey to autonomy, including a goal-based framework for autonomous requirements.

The ABS Advisory on Autonomous Functionality addresses the application of autonomous functions in the maritime and offshore industries, the infrastructure enabling these functions and key regulatory developments.

“Autonomous technology is gradually reshaping the maritime industry, bringing benefits such as increased operational efficiency, human error reduction, emission reduction, increased safety, and operational cost reduction. Regulation, engineering and culture all present challenges as significant as the development of technology itself,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology. “ABS is at the forefront of these emerging technologies and is currently collaborating with members, industry and regulators on autonomous vessel design, risk management and implementation projects all over the world. This advisory contains valuable guidance drawn from our extensive experience.”

As well as categorising the phases between automation and fully fledged autonomous function, the advisory introduces the Smart to Autonomous framework, which is a goal-based framework to guide the implementation of autonomous and remotely controlled functions. The advisory also details the importance of the development of a Concept of Operations document and emphasizes the importance of Remote Control and Operations Centres, which will play a critical human-in-the-loop role for autonomous operations.

On the regulatory side, the advisory provides a brief on the roles of the flag states and port states as well as an update on the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Regulatory Scoping Exercise by the IMO

“As new technologies mature and are implemented across the maritime and offshore industries, ABS will continue its historic mission to verify the safety of these new approaches and continue to advance the cause of safety at sea,” said Gareth Burton, ABS Vice President, Technology.

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