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Wednesday, April 8, 2020 

ABS has published new guidance on the journey to autonomy, including a goal-based framework for autonomous shipping requirements.

The ABS Advisory on Autonomous Functionality addresses the application of autonomous functions in the maritime and offshore industries, the infrastructure enabling these functions and key regulatory developments.

“Autonomous technology is gradually reshaping the maritime industry, bringing benefits such as increased operational efficiency, human error reduction, emission reduction, increased safety, and operational cost reduction. Regulation, engineering and culture all present challenges as significant as the development of technology itself,” said Patrick Ryan (pictured), ABS SVP Global Engineering and Technology. “ABS is at the forefront of these emerging technologies and is currently collaborating with members, industry and regulators on autonomous vessel design, risk management and implementation projects all over the world. This advisory contains valuable guidance drawn from our extensive experience.”

As well as categorising the phases between automation and fully fledged autonomous function, the advisory introduces the Smart to Autonomous framework, which is a goal-based framework to guide the implementation of autonomous and remotely controlled functions. The advisory also details the importance of the development of a Concept of Operations document and emphasises the importance of Remote Control and Operations Centres, which will play a critical human-in-the-loop role for autonomous operations.

On the regulatory side, the advisory provides a brief on the roles of the flag states and port states as well as an update on the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Regulatory Scoping Exercise by the IMO.

The ABS approach to autonomous development builds upon key principles established in the four preceding ABS publications:

  • ABS Guidance Notes for Smart Function Implementation
  • ABS Guide for Smart Functions for Marine Vessels and Offshore Units
  • ABS Guidance Notes on Review and Approval of Novel Concepts
  • ABS Guidance Notes on Qualifying New Technologies.

“As new technologies mature and are implemented across the maritime and offshore industries, ABS will continue its historic mission to verify the safety of these new approaches and continue to advance the cause of safety at sea,” said Gareth Burton, ABS VP Technology. 

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