Autonomous ship debate is misleading: Maersk Line

All the talk about autonomous ships is misleading and the industry is not addressing the real human element behind the technological changes sweeping the sector, Maersk Line’s point man for future solutions told the 200-odd delegates attending yesterday’s Digital Ship iShipping conference held in Copenhagen.

In an entertaining, contrarian address, Niels Bruus, who heads up Maersk Line’s Future Solutions department, said that connected ships are a team game. Not all crew or superintendents will survive the transition, he said.

Bruus, who joined Maersk Line in 1987 as a deck cadet, went on to lash the autonomous ships debate raging through much of the industry as “an irrelevant discussion”.

“Safe, reliable and efficient’ operations are the goal,” he stressed.

In terms of profiting from the new era of connected ships, Bruus said it was vital to empower crews and hold the business accountable to get any return on this investment.

The Future Solutions department at Maersk Line supports technical innovation activities across the Danish group’s transport and logistics business. Bruus is also the programme director for the Connected Vessel Programme which aims to connecting and digitise the Maersk Line fleet.

The next Digital Ship event is scheduled for April 4 in Marseille.



Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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