Maritime Activity in Next Decade to Be Dominated by Autonomous and Underwater Vessels: Report

Wednesday September 13, 2017

QinetiQ today, announcing the results of a report on the future of autonomous maritime systems, said maritime activity over the next decade will be dominated by unmanned surface and underwater vessels.

The report - written and researched by Lloyd's Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton - follows up on "Global Marine Technology Trends 2030," examining how technology trends will impact the regulatory and social aspects of the shipping industry.

"Networks of autonomous surface and underwater vessels are set to radically change the nature of maritime operations. Developments widely reported in the media, such as those in autonomous shipping, are happening with greater pace than expected as little as 2 years ago," said Tim Kent, Technical Director, Marine and Offshore at Lloyd's Register.

"These developments enabled by technology provide new opportunities and potential for disruptive business models. However, the principal challenges will be the integration of these autonomous systems into current maritime operations, legal and regulatory requirements, and not least the impact upon seafarers."

Bill Biggs, Senior Campaign Leader for Autonomy at QinetiQ, commenting on the report findings, said: "technological advances in consumer and adjacent markets are a real opportunity for the maritime sector. Applied artificial intelligence, low cost low size sensors, increased connectivity, improved cyber security and better energy management are all likely to drive rapid and disruptive change.

"Trials already undertaken by navies and transport companies demonstrate the opportunities that autonomous maritime systems present. In 2016 QinetiQ supported Unmanned Warrior, the largest demonstration of its type ever conducted, running as part of a major multinational naval exercise. It's just one example of the steps the UK is taking to keep up with the accelerating pace of change."

The full Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 autonomous systems report can be downloaded here.

Earlier this week, Ship & Bunker reported that, Henry Curra, Head of Research at Braemar ACM (Braemar), said technology advancements could throw off market fundamentals by creating an oversupply in the shipping industry.