IMarEST reports on impact of autonomous ships

The report says that autonomous technologies could create a competitive advantage for shipping companies, but adoption will vary Photo: IMarEST The report says that autonomous technologies could create a competitive advantage for shipping companies, but adoption will vary Photo: IMarEST

IMarEST’s Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Special Interest Group has been working to gauge the potential impacts of self-governing ships and plot out a new course for the shipping industry’s valued workforce.

In a new report, the organisation said that autonomous technologies could create a competitive advantage for shipping companies, but adoption will vary significantly between market segments.

“We had more than 600 responses to the survey, providing us a unique insight into current industry sentiment on an incipient - and often controversial – technology,” said Gordon Meadow, MASS-SIG Chair, IMarEST.

Roundtable discussion

The investigation conducted by the IMarEST’s Marine Autonomous Surface Ships special interest group (MASS-SIG) went on to inform a roundtable discussion which in turn formed the basis of a report: “Autonomous Shipping – Putting the Human Back in the Headlines”.

The report reveals that while only one in six believe that industry is fully geared up to exploit the autonomous or remote operation of commercial vessels in the immediate future, the general sentiment was that such technologies will deliver benefits over the long term.

However, somewhat ironically, the success of unmanned ships will hinge ultimately on accommodating the human-in-the-loop.

MASS-SIG’s investigation blended quantitative analysis in the form of an online survey with qualitative analysis of the results in a roundtable discussion held during Singapore Maritime Week in April, with the support of BMT Defence and Security and Braemar, as well as the British Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The mapping of new skill-sets is a major part of MASS-SIG’s remit and the report produced highlights ways in which employers, organisations and regulators can work together to understand the skills required in the future and the training framework within which they will be taught.

By Anne-Marie Causer

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