Autonomous Ships and the Law

Page 261

Chapter 16

Manning of unmanned ships

Johan Schelin1

1 Introduction

Artificial intelligence is developing very rapidly and this second phase of digitization also affects the marine sector. There are several driving forces behind the development of Marine Autonomous Surface Ships (MASSs). The military in several states are, for obvious reasons, interested in these projects, but shipowners have also shown an interest in the development of autonomous ships, the reasons here being the prospect of enhanced economic efficiency and safety, as well as better protection of the environment. The development of autonomous ships would potentially make it possible to operate ships in a more efficient way than today due to increased loading capacity, reduced manning and fuel costs, and lower emissions. Space on board the ship currently used for the crew can be turned into cargo holds and the hull may be given a more aerodynamic design. In addition, the automation of certain functions on board ships will the reduce the so-called human factor and this may result in fewer accidents and incidents at sea.

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