Lloyd’s Register launches guidance for autonomous ship design

Lloyd’s Register (LR) has launched guidance that sets out six different autonomy levels (AL) that will form the basis for the classification of autonomous ships.

‘AL 6’, the highest level, denotes a fully autonomous ship with no access required during a mission, while ‘AL 1’ is the lowest level of autonomy.

The class society says the ‘AL’ system will enable the desired level of autonomy to be specified accurately during in vessel design and operation, which will provide clarity to designers, shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, shipowners and operators.

“Today, the market wants autonomous ships that can be operated with varying levels of control. So, we have now described and delivered the levels required to make decisions enabling the design, construction and operation of autonomous ships to take place. The levels provide a procedure to address the safety and practical issues required to meet classification, regulatory and market drivers,” Luis Benito, LR’s head of innovation strategy and research, said in a release.

LR said it has been working with “leading technology companies”, which have peer-reviewed the AL guidance.

“Safety will reduce costs. We are only at the start of the cyber ship and a cyber-enabled shipping industry but we are making amazing progress. We are trying to help the industry adopt the data, digital and connectivity technologies could deliver benefits to shipping – and to help keep ships safe,” Benito said.

Rolls-Royce last year launched its Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), which is being funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation). Inmarsat is also a partner in the project (pictured), which will run until 2017.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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