Future of ships


the legal issues between countries will be a big hurdle.
Local boats not so much.
If they can get around autonomous vehicles then vessels should be the same.

2019 I am in an autonomous taxi that crashes, do i hail another and just leave?


Last attempt. From the horses mouth:
Fairplay is good at hiding their article from free reading, but this one was originally in Hellenic Shipping. Unfortunately no longer available there.


I think the law would consider that as leaving the scene of an accident. They would want you to stick around to provide information.


Rolls-Royce Marine AS, who are in the forefront of developing autonomous ships, are up for sale:

This division of Rolls-Royce is situated mainly in Norway and Finland, with the HQ in Ulsteinvik and much of the design and development functions here in Aalesund.

No bidder has yet materialized, but there is obvious nervousness among the 1600 employees in Norway, the majority in Sunnmore:

(Sorry, in Nynorsk, so Google Translate will have problems)

For those who do not know how a large British Aerospace company came to get involved in the commercial Marine industry in Norway and Finland, here is a brief history, largely from memory:

In 1999 Vickers plc acquires the Ulstein Group. (This excluded Ulstein Shipyard, which remained in the ownership of the Ulstein family)

Ulstein Group was established in 1917 and manufactured a variety of marine products including propellers, azimuth units, tunnel thrusters, rudders, steering gear, deck machinery, engines and automation systems.

Rolls-Royce acquires Vickers plc to form a new commercial marine division, Rolls-Royce Marine AS, with HQ in Ulsteinvik.

What RR was actually after was Vickers Naval division and their contracts, patents and facilities.
The activities in Norway and elsewhere was of secondary importance.

Incl. in this takeover was well known brands like; Bergen Diesel, Brattvaag and Rauma Winches, Frydenboe Steering gear, KaMeWa and Liaan propellers and thrusters and a whole host of lesser known entities in Scandinavia, Poland, Singapore and China.

This also included all the UT designs of offshore vessels. They later added NVC design for Fishing and commercial vessels to become a world leader in ship design, especially for complex vessels.

Since then the automation division in Aalesund and Turku, Finland has become a very important part of development of intelligent and autonomous ships.

Let us hope that any buyer isn’t a speculator or stripping expert who break up this well developed company to gratify their greed.


The AI people are rightly confident that they can develop the software and hardware to have a ship safely cross oceans but unless the machinery can function reliably to a standard that I have never experienced then it’s a house of cards. You cannot cross oceans on batteries.
The legal fraternity and the insurance industry do not have any real understanding of the present interface between the operator and AI to draft any regulations.
If we do have unmanned vessels wandering over the oceans it should provide plenty of employment for retired anchor handlers towing the vessels back to port, given the reliability issues I have experienced.


If I haven’t said it enough, I’ll repeat it again;
The nearest to it would be a modern CSV with DP-3 Class, but with the diesel driven generators replaced with fuel cells.

The first such crossing on a commercial voyage will only take place after all systems have been thoroughly tested and found working to near perfection. Meanwhile there will have been dozens of smaller short sea vessels and ferries in autonomous operation for some years.


I don’t care to consort with those of the robot race.


@powerabout Belay my answer. There’ll be an app for that.


Japan is in for a 2025 launch of “self-piloting” ships, on the road to fully autonomous ships some time later:


Looks like a ramp to me.


Hydrogen is coming.
From Hydrogen meeting in New York:

And in Bonn:

When will it be ready to power a Mega Containership??


Noted without comment:





Rolls-Royce Marine opens Research and Development Centre in Finland:


The article is a year old but it shows the promise of the future of unmanned shipping!

Navy: Saudi Frigate Attacked by Unmanned Bomb Boat, Likely Iranian


Does the attitude of “dinosaurs” hold up development in shipping??:

I get the impression that some of the sceptics that is holding back development are not oldtimers, but younger seafarers who are doing so because they are afraid they cannot adapt and renew their skills to fit the new reality.

The key to moving with the time is education, training and re-education as required to stay current and attractive for employers. Many countries are realizing this and are making facilities and funds available to do so.

Unions also need to accept that they cannot hold back development and hope to retain work for their member, unless they upgrade.


Ombugge, that link is just more crap.

The article implies that it is the small-minded mariner that is holding back a golden age of autonomous and autonomic tech from helping humankind. Absurd.

This is as accurate as saying it was the donkey or water buffalo that prevented a farming revolution. The mariner has almost no say in the matter, he just labors on the ships. The beast pulling the plowshare had no say in the development of the tractor.

You just like to link these crap articles that blame the mariner for being small-minded and afraid.

The real decision makers in this regard are those who weigh the costs and benefits of these things. That means those who shape public opinion, weigh risk and figure out the cheapest way to do things. The mariner is not in that chain.


No, the backward thinking and attitude is as much accredited to management as seafarers.


We’ve been watching tech replace humans for a long time now. Logging and mining, manufacturing and milling, warfare and transportation. Some times people resisted but that rarely lasts long. Money and the making of money has always won out.

If it were so simple for the working man and his union to fend off job destroying technology we would still have cars made by well paid humans and not profit-efficient robotics. Bread would be baked by bakers. Furniture would be hand-made. Farmers wouldn’t have to compete against the industrial combine harvester.

No sir. Once again you blame the surf but not his lord and master. The real pace of progress is not set by the mariner but by the investor.



Is shipping heading for a bubble similar to the Dot.com debacle?:

Some delegates at the International e-Navigation Underway Conference got to see a demonstration of what the ship tech future may look like:

While Transas got to present their THESIS, an AI cloud-based platform for managing all maritime operations:

Is “the future” already here for those ready to embrace it??