Autonomous Vessel Symposium

Posted on January 09, 2019

Autonomous (unmanned) shipping methods have been big news in the media and in transportation industry publications over the past few years.  Most of the discussion has centered on trucking and small package drone shipments and deliveries.  However, strides are also being made in autonomous maritime vessel transport, both on inland and ocean waterways.  Although still in its infancy, autonomous-controlled vessels have the potential to significantly lower costs while simultaneously improving safety over the traditional human-controlled model. (3)

On June 27, 2018, experts from all sectors of the industry will gather in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for the third annual Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium.  Last year’s conference attracted over 200 attendees. (1)

This year’s 3-day conference brings together various professionals to trade insights, vision and experiences, as well as networking. A broad range of topics are scheduled for discussion including:

  • Technology – past, present, and future
  • Goals
  • Different degrees of autonomy
  • Need for creation of standards and best practices
  • Projected changing skillsets of mariners and other sectors of the maritime labor force
  • Cost considerations
  • Legal and regulatory measures
  • Predicted safety, security, social, ethical, economic, and environmental impacts
  • Case studies
  • Research projects
  • Simulations

Among the many planned speakers are:

Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world, who will review the drivers and requirements needed for autonomous shipping to ultimately be implemented.
Rolls Royce will outline a strategy of partnering industry with governments to ensure autonomous ships reach market faster.
The anticipated need for linking “smart” vessels to “smart” ports will be examined by Norwegian digital company, Marine Solutions.
One Sea will report on the 2017 creation of the 125-square km Jaakonmeri test area in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Finland. One Sea is a collection of 7 marine and ICT companies pioneering autonomous vessel research, with the stated aim of establishing the world’s first autonomous maritime ecosystem by 2025.  (2)

If the cost savings and safety impact can be proven to pan out, in the future autonomous maritime transport promises to change the way products and materials are moved over the world’s waterways.  In fact, Captain Andrew Kinsey, Senior Marine Risk Consultant at AGCS points out that, “Autonomous technology has the potential to revolutionize the movement of cargo on a scale not seen since containerization was introduced some 50 years ago.” (3) The third annual Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium, scheduled to take place next month, will continue to bring experts and industry leaders together as they work to further explore this new frontier.  As maritime autonomous technology moves forward, significantly increasing media coverage on the transportation industry is sure to follow.

Contributor: Mary Kopczynsku 


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