An article from new.abb.com featuring two leading experts (ABB Marine & Ports’ Eero Lehtovaara and Lloyd’s Register’s Jonathan Earthy) discusses autonomous navigation of ships, advocating that the AI onboard the ships should support the Captain and not replace them.
In the article, Lehtovaara states that truly unmanned shipping is not within realistic range right now, pointing out that an autonomous vessel is not necessary unmanned but an unmanned vessel is, by default, autonomous to a high degree. He does note that there are varying degrees of autonomy, some of which can be explored and implemented today.
The article discusses incentives for enhancing crews with human-machine parings rather than full automation and unmanned ships.
Earthy supports Lehtovaara and believes that “automation is about empowering people with technology, not replacing them”.
As the maritime world has the concept of "autonomous shipping" dangled ahead of it, we should strat every reference to autonomous shipping with Lehtovaraa's words - "Automation is about empowering people with technology, not replacing them." Unmanned shipping - whenever it arrives - still needs to address issues such as pilotage, reporting of in-voyage damage or pollution, and protection in hazardous waters against piracy and other threats.
James Taylor, IAIN delegate to IMO