Denmark Planning for Future With Autonomous Ships

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October 21, 2016

 Illustration: Rolls-Royce

The Danish Maritime Authority is preparing for a future that includes autonomous ships by launching a pre-study on the matter.

The Authority says that unmanned ships becoming a reality is not a matter of if, but when, where, and to which extent. To prepare for this new reality, the Authority has teamed up with the Technical University of Denmark to initiate the pre-study, with the purpose of increasing the knowledge base surrounding the technology and set the preliminary framework so the development and use of unmanned ships is done in an appropriate manner.

”This is a really interesting area and, in the short term, the technology can be used to make our ships safer and more efficient,” said Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen. “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 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 said in a statement.

“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,” the statement added. 

Internationally, Roll-Royce has been appointed to lead the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications, a project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future.

“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,” said the Danish Maritime Authority. 

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