Researchers from academia, industry and regulators came together on 8th and 9th of November 2023 to share the latest news on autonomous sailing at the International Conference on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (ICMASS). During three keynote talks, more than 60 presentations and countless private conversations new findings and open issues related to the automation of surface ships were discussed.
The developments presented at ICMASS underscored the current transition of autonomous ships from research to practical implementation. Highly sophisticated methods for both autonomous and remote controlled navigation were presented with results from simulations, test setups and full-scale implementations. Alongside these, solutions for automated communication and cooperation were showcased. Many of the improved capabilities are related to great improvements in the situational awareness that artificial intelligence can obtain and that can be communicated to onshore operators. How to ensure the safety of people, vessels and surroundings was discussed extensively both from technical perspectives and from legislative and certification perspectives. Usecases for autonomous surface ships, their uptake and how they can change the way maritime transport is performed were also addressed as part of paving the way to useful implementations of autonomous surface ships.
At ICMASS, the common drivers behind the participants’ excitement for autonomous surface ships was the technologies’ potential to improve maritime operations, to free seafarers from (dangerous) onboard duties, and to significantly reduce the energy consumptions in the maritime sector. 18 of the presented ideas are further elaborated in the open access proceedings you can find here.