Whether spread across its vast exhibition halls or at myriad press events or industry conferences, the topic of autonomous shipping has been a central theme at this year’s Marintec China event in Shanghai.
ABS executive vice president for global marine Dr Kirsi Tikka chaired a panel session during the event on the marine industry’s journey to autonomy and the collective benefits realised along the way.
“With fast-paced advances in technology, we are on a journey to autonomous transportation at sea,” Tikka said. “For the shipping industry, at sea and ashore, it will be a gradual process of evolution.”
Tikka described the benefits that will come during interim phases of the marine industry’s voyage to autonomous shipping. “The transition to the next generation of shipping is fuelled by automation, data and connectivity. Ultimately, success will rely on an iterative process that requires designing, building and testing interim outcomes. The industry will increasingly apply a systems engineering-based approach to build in robustness and reliability into the design. This process can increase the reliability of navigation, propulsion, auxiliaries, and communication – all of which will contribute to improving safety and efficiency. If implemented correctly, evolutionary development will introduce significant benefits to shipping at each phase, before we reach autonomy on a larger scale.”
Tikka went on to discuss how a new talent profile with different skills will be necessary as the industry moves to autonomy. “While we transition to further autonomy, increased automation and connectivity will change how the crews interact with ship systems and shore-based support. Managing significant change, in an industry where changes are adopted slowly, requires innovative thinking and a diverse blend of education and experience.”
Marintec China, Asia’s largest shipping show, closes tomorrow.