The technology for unmanned ships is coming, but it is not yet known precisely where, when and to which extent. However, now a step is taken in the right direction as the Danish Maritime Authority – together with the DTU – is initiating a pre-study on autonomous ships. The purpose of the Danish Maritime Authority's cooperation with the DTU is, firstly, to increase the common knowledge base and to set the preliminary frames so that the development and use of unmanned ships can come about in an appropriate manner.
Minister for Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen:
”This is a really interesting area and, in the short term, the technology can be used to make our ships safer and more efficient. In the longer term, research in autonomous ships may become a great advantage for Blue Denmark. The global maritime sector is faced with a number of challenges that will also be considered during next week's Danish Maritime Days, and this technology could turn out to be part of the solution."
The vision of masterless or autonomous ships is not new. But now the development of especially software systems with much data power as well as developments in robot technology and self-propelled cars has made masterless ships of great immediate interest – not least for Blue Denmark, which is in general characterised by a high level of technology.
The potential of autonomous ships is great, in terms of automation of ship operations, reduction of ship operation costs, safer and more reliable ship operation and increased energy efficiency.
These are all important factors where Blue Denmark can use its strength positions within new technology, thus contributing to acquiring competitive advantages. Therefore, the Danish Maritime Authority now wants to get better knowledge in this area.
The planned pre-study will be carried out under the DTU project on research-based maritime consultancy which is financed by the Danish Maritime Fund.
The purpose of the pre-study is to ensure that we have a Danish definition of what the concept actually covers and to propose how to develop useful, functional projects capable of contributing to the sector both in terms of technology and economy.
The Danish Maritime Authority wants to carry out a wide cooperation project on the development of masterless ships, which is based on the positions of strength of Blue Denmark within shipping, safety and the environment, energy efficiency, technology development and maritime competences.
Several projects on autonomous ships have already been completed, such as the EU-financed MUNIN project and several projects driven by the industry in, for example, Finland. At present, Norway and England have established each their own cooperation forum with the participation of a number of authority and industry partners. Norway has just launched a test area for autonomous ships at Trondheim.
Next week, particular focus will be on the challenges and solutions of the maritime sector when Danish Maritime Days is held with maritime events all over the country.