Autonomous vessels – can the potential benefits be realised?

Between 80 and 90% of goods worldwide are quoted as being moved by ships, as they can offer economic and efficient long-distance transport. Autonomous vessels provide potential advantages by reducing the impact on the environment, increasing safety, reducing costs, and addressing skills shortages. In 2019 it was estimated the market for autonomous shipping technologies was worth over $1bn per year and growing.

The challenges are to provide the necessary communications and associated regulatory regimes and obtain worldwide acceptance necessary for global operation. This paper considers what current solutions will support the realisation of autonomous vessels and challenges that will need to be addressed.