EU to fund autonomous ship development

Acknowledging how Asia has stolen Europe’s shipbuilding business, the European Commission yesterday vowed to fund two autonomous shipping projects. Dubbed Autoship, the autonomous projects include work started by Rolls Royce and Kongsberg.

Autoship will build and operate two remote and autonomous vessels and the required shore control and operation infrastructure. Testing will take place during two pilot demonstration campaigns addressing goods mobility from the Baltic Corridor to a major EU seaport and hinterland.

The technology package will include full-autonomous navigation, self-diagnostic, prognostics and operation scheduling, as well as communication technology enabling a prominent level of cyber security and integrating the vessels into upgraded e-infrastructure. In parallel, digital tools and methodologies for design, simulation and cost analysis will be developed for the whole community of autonomous ships.

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.


  1. If it hasn’t already, this autonomous ship is going to turn into a race, who can get the dibs on building and operating the first regular trading fully functioning autonomous ship rather than the peripheral one off relatively small ones. I am wondering what is driving this though, the technology people who are just curious as to the possibilities, just exploring their field? Shipowners/operators trying to cut cost, getting rid of pesky people with their human nature? Is it a case of have technology must use? I keep asking some people, about reactions to this and they keep saying it is not going to be anytime soon. That should be no consolation and I believe it is going to be sooner than many think or wish. How is the industry preparing for it. Where will labour be dispersed, to shore based control systems/rooms? Will there be different types limited manning, no manning etc? Will the usual, regulations etc. be lagging 5, 10, 15 years behind the technology as per usual?

  2. I believe as a one off it will happen soon, but beyond that not for a while until collision regulations are rewritten, legal precedence is sorted and insurance companies satisfied with the designated responsibilities.

  3. Sometimes I don’t understand sometimes we are talking to provide human with decent jobs, same time we are pushing for this technology which obviously is going to replace humans/ labors onboard !!!! definitely we have to different speeches as society !!!!

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