Baltic region confirms 2030 autonomous shipping vision

By 2030 the Baltic Sea Region will have been operating on highly automated ships for ten years and will have a small variety of fully autonomous vessels operating on specific routes.

This is the Baltic Sea Region’s 2030 vision.

A study, initiated by the The European Commission, suggests that the majority of vessels will be operated conventionally or partly autonomously, but by 2030 the interaction between autonomous vessels and those operated by people will be nearly seamless.

Sharing of data will be more transparent and this will enable a new set of automated services to be used. In less than 10 years the digitalisation of shipping will have revolutionised the shipping industry and led to advanced communication capabilities. This will create a maritime logistics cloud that will be in place for all stakeholders.

The Baltic Sea Region will also become more attractive to shipbuilding workers.  Highly automated processes with IT-based and robotic applications will make it more appealing to workers and make the processes more productive.

The European Commission outlines this vision for 2030 in its report, Towards an implementation strategy for the sustainable blue growth agenda for the Baltic sea region.

The European Commission believes that education and training will have adapted to enable seafarers, shipyards and suppliers with the necessary skills to learn and work in an industry that has more reliance on automated operations.

In terms of the environment, the report indicates that environmentally differentiated port dues and shore-side power are insufficiently implemented.  Although they are on the agenda, they require further work, particularly in the case of shore power where there are still compatibility issues with the local onshore power generation capacity and grid is required.

In order to reach this vision, the European Commission believes that cooperation between e-navigation initiatives at the Baltic Sea Region level are required to assess maintenance costs and higher expenditure on crew that would require high-level IT-qualifications and understanding of autonomous processes.

One test bed currently exists in Norway for assessing autonomous vessels.  More test bed will be required, run by a consortium of project partners. Autonomous ships will be tested here to see how they interact with one another and conventional vessels.

The research undertaken as part of this report consisted of a survey in which 275 blue growth stakeholders took part, 50 interviews with pivotal stakeholders and workshops that brought together more than 120 stakeholders.

As well as shipping, the blue bioeconomy that includes aquaculture, coastal and maritime tourism, and environmental and monitoring technology are pointed to as key thematic areas that need to be focussed on to help the Baltic Sea Region’s growth.

The report can be accessed here.


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