example of a kind of autonomy, where the system reacts to conditions by making use of the sensor data.”
Threats Marnix recognises that there are also threats to the development of autonomous shipping. Cybersecurity is a major consideration and there is the threat presented by IPR issues. “In order to achieve autonomy, we need digitalisation and consequently the free availability of data.” Barriers in regulations could be another potential hurdle. “The IMO is progressing quickly. But I personally think that this will be the most difficult obstacle. The legislation surrounding AI has to speed up and it will take a lot of effort to ensure that this keeps going at a swift pace.”
However, he is pleased to see that both the IMO and the Dutch government are fully motivated to speed up the changes in legislation and that the government is providing the opportunities to perform the testing needed to push the development on.
And while there are threats, there are plenty of opportunities, he stresses.
“This presents a whole new way of looking at the ship and the shipping world. We can use autonomous shipping to strengthen the industry, increase our knowledge and it will lead to new business models – more shore control for example.”
Autonomous Shipping JIP Both NMT and MARIN are exploring the opportunities and they initiated the two-year, Autonomous Shipping JIP, along with Delft University of Technology and TNO. “Using state-of-the- art technology we want to demonstrate the potential - not just by paper studies or simulations - but by a full-scale trial. Now we are using the lessons learnt to work on the future autonomous shipping roadmap.” (For further details regarding the sea trials see page 10.)
Marnix Krikke onboard during Autonomous Shipping trials
Marnix welcomes the ambitions of MARIN to develop a simulation environment to assess the performance of autonomous systems. “In a simulation environment the system can be tested in numerous scenarios to prove its robust and safe operation.” The JIP was the first time this type of simulation had been performed and they examined what the system would do compared to what a captain would choose to do.
“We were very happy with the trial at sea. It is always different from the lab environment. For example, sometimes the radar systems reacted too much to wave clutter. But this trial is a very important step. We need to build up the knowledge by using this experience.”
Taking the roadmap as a starting point, NMT and the JIP members are also embarking on a number of initiatives both locally and internationally and again, MARIN is expected to play a key role.
Sovereign project As a follow up to the JIP, NMT and its partners have developed a proposal titled ‘Sovereign’ for a very ambitious project, involving a plan for a
shortsea ship sailing in full autonomous mode from Rotterdam to Eemshaven. A shore station and satellite communication would be included in the ambitious project. The vessel has to be able to recognise traffic and nearby objects, as well as the physical environment but all from the quayside.
“In the Netherlands we want to use the knowledge gained by these pioneering projects to be a smart Autonomous Shipping developer and a smart buyer. I am very excited about the potential. It is a different way of looking at ship design and operations – a true game changer, which provides opportunities for our industry.
“Doing these projects collaboratively is the best way forward. MARIN, like us, has a future-orientated strategy. The shipping industry is very competitive and we want to provide a stimulus that it should always be thinking ahead!”
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