Future of ships


Then there’s wingsail assist tankers…




The Dutch wants to be in on the act:


The Chinese are already well under way with their development of autonomous ships:

Maybe they will be first with a truly ocean going unmanned ship?:


In the run-up to publishing the annual Lloyd’s List Top 100 most influential people in shipping on December 15, here are the movers and shakers of the year in maritime next-gen tech 2017:

Rolls-Royce Marine’s Oscar Levander is topping the list, while NMK Aalesund are in 6th place.
It is also noticeable how many Finns are on this short list.


A bit of a tangent but somewhat applicable. Here drive mapping programs (a form of autonomous route planning, if you will) directed drivers into smoke and flames. Imagine if these were autonomous cars without drivers. The future is gonna be hot!


Ye of little faith. The Finnwegians will have this sort of thing completely in control with a few lines of code and ex bank tellers at their command stations monitoring social media. The future is bright.


Finnwegians, Norfinnegans. Potatoe, potato


If there are a glut of over-optimistic articles about autonomous ships of vthe future there is no shortage of the opposite either. Here is a recent one:

I don’t think autonomous ships will enter and leave ports in fully autonomous mode, nor are they likely to be allowed to, especially in congested ports like Rotterdam.
They will be remotely operated by “Pilots” sitting ashore, who are able to “see” and talk to other vessels and other “Pilots” just like today.


I think he meant that engine maintenence is not constant like navigation or steering, so the engineers would have a lot of down time.


A Norwegian company plans to introduce autonomous ferries in 2018. And Rolls Royce and other shipbuilding companies are designing concepts and writing white papers that envision the future of autonomous ships. The potential for these boats is high, and the potential uses varied. What will they look like.


Another test zone for autonomous vessels have been approved by the Coastal Authorities in Norway:

This zone is close to the Simrad/Kongsberg facilities and the area where the Yara Birkeland will operate in a couple of years.

The first zone to be approved is in Trondheimsfjorden, close to SINTEF, MARINETEK and the main NTNU Campus.

The second zone was established in Storfjorden, near Aalesund and Norwegian Maritime Competence Centre (NMK) and NTNU’s Campus Aalesund.
Rolls-Royce Marine, Inmarsat and several others involved in the development of ships and marine technology are situated in NMK.
This is also where most of the shipyards that will be building the early autonomous ships and ferries are located.


China’s first “Smart Ship” is already learning how to become autonomous, at least as far as navigation is concerned:

Will it learn faster and better than newly minted Navigation Officers and replace them anytime soon??
Only time will tell.


Wartsila is facing up to the reality of smarter future ships and shipping:

Are you???


You have all read the stories about how hackers can take over the navigation or cargo planning systems of container ships and either send them aground or capsize them?
Well, Splash 24/7 have done some research into these reports:


Some of the heavy weights in shipping is getting into the game:



I don’t know if fake or not.


Very difficult to assess this without knowing more. But it looks like the tests were run against either a lab setup or a ship in port. It’s hard to figure out from the story just what the attack vector was, but they appeared to have exploited a weak over-the-air ECDIS update “feature” for the chart business. If that was the case it speaks very badly for the unnamed vendor.

The description of the radar spoofing appears to be a further exploitation of the ECDIS flaw, in that they imply they were not only able to manipulate chart data but also install malware which propagated further into the system.

The engine room stuff was the old thumb drive/USB stick trick. Having an unsecured USB port on a shipboard computer is a very, very bad idea.

Everything that was demonstrated was we used to call “exploits” or more informally “gotchas:” a demonstration of a flaw with a lot of “coulda shoulda woulda” surrounding it. The question is whether that could be an element of a meaningful attack. It’s like demonstrating that you can smuggle a knife through airport security. OK, so now you’ve got a knife on an airplane. Now what?

As the Splash article noted, the one thing standing in the way of these exploits becoming attacks is an alert crew. If the crew is captive to their sensors and fail to respond to other cues (like looking out the window) then you’re in trouble. And, of course, if the ship is unmanned, being captive to the sensors is a feature, not a bug :frowning:




You hit the nail on the head. And that “feature” it is a large and moving hurdle.


For a short trip I would have thought even easier and done sooner if clear of other shipping or the vessel gets a blind navigation waiver ( everybody gives way), auto approach systems already exist, its just if you want it to avoid things without human intervention or will a pilot have control from the shore?


Navigation and collision avoidance on long ocean crossings can already be automated and to a large degree already are on some ships, but it is still required to have an OOW at all times and a lookout at night and in bad visibility.

When an autonomous ship gets close to a port, or in congested fairways, like the English Channel , Malacca Strait etc. the remote oversight and control is increased to ensure fast action in case anything goes wrong, like that any manned vessel or wafi that do not follow the rules create a dangerous situation.

Whether individual countries or ports will insist on that function being transferred to a local Control Centre, or still handled from the other side of the world, is left to be seen. (Very likely it will end up with a bit of both)

The need for a pilot physically on board to do the task of guiding and order maneuver actions etc., is VERY unlikely, since there will not be any facilities to accommodate such a function. (No "bridge, nobody to rig a pilot ladder and no hot coffee)