Introduction

Autonomous – or ‘smart’ – ships have been hogging the headlines in the maritime media for some months now. Companies like Rolls-Royce are confidently predicting that automated vessels will be in service within a few years, and trials of ‘robo-vessels’ are being carried out in some major maritime nations.

Against this background, the Nautilus Federation has agreed a policy to address the many challenges and opportunities that technological advances present to maritime professionals.

To take this work forward, we wish to get members’ views about automation – good or bad? A threat or an opportunity? Please spare a few minutes to share your views and experience with us.

Please note that the term ‘Autonomous ships’ is used to define vessels where onboard autonomous systems provide supplementary information and support for onboard human decisions or independently perform repetitive routine tasks; ‘Unmanned remotely controlled ships’ defines ships where onboard autonomous systems provide information to shore-based operators who monitor and control the onboard autonomous systems. The term ‘Smart Ship’ is more open to interpretation and can even be understood to mean a ship operating independently of all human interaction through Artificial Intelligence eliminating the shore-based operator.

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