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COVID-19 is accelerating technological advances across just about every industry, from robotic baristas that promote social distancing to AI and remote collaboration tools that help manual laborers get back to work. The pandemic has had a direct impact on the transport realm, with social distancing measures calling traditional modes of travel into question. Demand for ride-hailing services quickly plummeted with the advent of the pandemic, leading Uber to double down on food delivery and micromobility, while drone deliveries soared. And while autonomous vehicle companies have faced significant obstacles to real-world testing, early signs suggest the crisis could hasten the adoption of driverless vehicles.

But automobiles, trucks, and drones are only part of the autonomous transport picture. Ships and other seafaring vessels play a huge role in the global economy. As lockdowns ease and the world adapts to a new paradigm, maritime automation could gain significant traction.

Not shipshape

According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), maritime vessels constitute around 90% of all international trade — making them, as ICS puts it, the “lifeblood” of the global economy. But boats are also floating petri dishes.

In The Geography of Transport Systems (2020), Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue and coauthors drew correlations between transportation and pandemics, with specific reference to the Spanish Flu. They highlighted one of the key reasons 100 million people died and 30% of the world’s population became ill:

One important factor why the Spanish Flu spread so quickly and so extensively was through modern transportation, which at the beginning of the 20th century offered global coverage. The virus was spread around the world by infected crews and passengers of ships and trains, and severe epidemics occurred in shipyards and railway personnel.

In short, transportation plays a pivotal role in the spread of viruses, which is why airlines, trains, subways, taxi services, and boats saw such huge drops in usage following outbreaks of COVID-19.

Cargo and passenger ships around the world have been turned away from ports by local authorities, with as many as 300,000 merchant sailors stranded at sea for months, far beyond their contractual agreements. In April, ICS and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued a joint call demanding governments “take urgent measures” to facilitate crew change flights.

While the implementation of autonomous technology is not yet widespread enough to turn the tide on COVID-19, many are already looking to the future. And companies that have been working to bring automation to the shipping industry are now poised to enter a world wary of pandemics.

Avoidance

Tel Aviv-based Orca AI is developing a collision avoidance system that is currently being piloted by a number of shipping companies globally, CEO and cofounder Yarden Gross told VentureBeat. The company applies its algorithms to data extracted from multiple sensors installed on a vessel, including thermal and low-light cameras, to detect and measure the distance to other vessels and objects in the water. “We then provide [a] risk assessment of any detected object and vessel to enable the crew to be more aware of potentially dangerous situations,” Gross said.

Above: Orca AI

While radar and other systems have long been used at sea, they may require constant monitoring and can’t always alert crews to a hazard or issue actionable recommendations. This problem becomes particularly pronounced when multiple vessels or obstacles are in close proximity. Throw into the mix crowded or narrow waterways and low-light conditions and it’s easy to see why at least three-quarters of maritime accidents are caused by human error, at least according to liability claims data.

Orca AI is banking on technology to turn the tide. “The shipping industry is one of the most conservative industries in the world, and the pandemic is creating an increased demand for digital tools, automation, and connectivity, in order to reduce the number of people involved in the whole process,” Gross said.

Above: Orca AI’s collision avoidance system at work

The transition to fully autonomous ships will take time, particularly for large vessels that travel thousands of miles between continents. This shift could mirror the evolution of autonomous cars and trucks, beginning with semi-autonomous technologies, such as collision avoidance systems, and initially focusing on narrow use cases on predefined routes.

The vast majority of maritime accidents happen in ports, straits, and canals, which is where Orca AI is currently focused. “This is where the existing equipment is lacking in efficiency and accuracy,” Gross said. “Today, systems don’t take full control over vessels, but gradually there will be more autonomous capabilities. It will be similar to aviation, where there is still a pilot, but most of the time the computer is controlling the plane and the pilot is supervising and doing other tasks. In autonomous shipping, there will still be a crew, but there will be more and more tasks done autonomously.”

“Marine pilotage” is a term for specially trained mariners who board ships near the port to guide them through domestic waterways, often providing local knowledge of water-based thoroughfares that the captain doesn’t have. This task is sometimes carried out “remotely,” particularly during adverse weather conditions, with pilots on smaller boats guiding a big ship to safety or offering instructions from a control center. However, the COVID-19 crisis could be expediting such efforts, as a number of ports have been forced to embrace remote pilotage for ships or crew arriving from high-risk countries.

In late March, the Italian cruise ship Costa Diadema reported 65 cases of COVID-19 on board. To pass through the Suez Canal without a pilot physically boarding the ship, a team on tug boats maneuvered it using radar and information from monitoring stations along the route. Similarly, a U.K. fishing port in April introduced remote pilotage for vessels entering its harbor.

While remote pilotage might not entirely replace traditional methods, technology can make the work more efficient and safe. Orca AI promises to help pilots do their work remotely by “streaming the data from the cameras and other sensors back to shore in real time,” Gross said. “Orca is in discussion with a few ports regarding this.”

Going local

Norwegian chemical company Yara International and technology group Kongsberg have been working on the Yara Birkeland Autonomous Ship Project since 2017, with plans to put an electric, autonomous container ship into service. This effort would span three ports and 12 nautical miles in southern Norway.

Above: Yara Birkeland’s proposed route in southern Norway

Above: Yara Birkeland

The ship, which sports various sensors, including radar, lidar, and infrared cameras, has an automatic mooring system — berthing and unberthing will be done without any human intervention. Along the route, operation centers will be equipped to handle emergency situations remotely and support the onboard AI’s decision-making.

Above: Kongsberg’s operational control center for the Yara Birkeland

The Yara Birkeland will have a crew initially, and the transition to full autonomy will be done in stages, thanks in part to the development of a detachable bridge (command center).

“Even before the vessel starts its operation, there will be a level of automated capabilities for maneuvering, positioning, moorings, and supporting the crew,” An-Magritt Tinlund Ryste, product director for next-generation shipping at Kongsberg, told VentureBeat. “We foresee that we will be required to implement new autonomous functionality gradually to verify the performance in real-life operational scenarios before we arrive at the final stages where the vessel, the connectivity solution, and the remote operation center are sufficiently tested to allow for unmanned operation.”

While the Yara Birkeland was scheduled to transition to full automation by 2022, the COVID-19 crisis has forced developers to “pause” work on the project. Such setbacks are not ideal, but Ryste suggested the pandemic could accelerate the broader autonomous ship movement, as “ship owners and operators have an increased incentive to invest in new technology for the future, with a focus on support and surveillance from land.”

The Yara Birkeland represents part of Kongsberg’s wider effort to bring more autonomy to seafaring vessels. The company has already developed and demonstrated autocrossing and autodocking technology, and the first “adaptive transit” passenger ferry service traveled from dock to dock earlier this year. This was done through a collaboration between the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA), shipping company Bastø Fosen, and Kongsberg. The launch kick-started a six-month trial, during which Kongsberg’s system controlled the ferry’s journey from start to finish, with a captain overseeing the trip from inside the bridge. The next step is to install an anti-collision system, and tests are scheduled for later this year.

Kongsberg partnered in 2018 with maritime industry group Wilhelmsen to launch a joint venture called Massterly, designing land-based operation centers to monitor and control autonomous ships in Norway and further afield. This echoes what we’re seeing in the broader autonomous vehicle realm. Sweden’s Einride recently showcased remote driving stations where teleoperators — many of them former truck drivers — can take control of Einride’s autonomous trucks when required, with an operator able to control multiple vehicles from a single station.

Einride operators will be able to control multiple autonomous trucks from a single remote drive station

Above: Einride operators will be able to control multiple autonomous trucks from a single remote station

Einride demonstrates that while some jobs will be lost to AI and automation, new ones will be created. For autonomous shipping, this could mean new roles for staff overseeing ships remotely. This shift will also expand the talent pool to include people in new locations.

“Remote services are here to stay,” Ryste continued. “We see it working well for people working from home, and with more sensors and connected vessels, the need for having a service engineer on board also decreases. This gives you access to an expert in a time zone convenient for the vessel crew.”

The pandemic will likely accelerate efforts to incorporate autonomous technology in shipping. “I think that what has happened during the COVID-19 crisis will strengthen the argument for the push toward autonomous ships,” Kongsberg research and innovation manager Jason McFarlane told VentureBeat. “In particular, in relation to the restriction of people’s movement and the challenges with crew changes. Autonomous shipping, especially for unmanned vessels, should allow freight and cargo to be transported internationally and across borders without being affected by restrictions on people’s movement.”

We’ve already seen similar activity in other industries — from the passage of laws to updated corporate work-from-home policies and the adoption of new technologies. In the shipping industry, as with others, such changes could open the door to a more permanent shift.

“The focus has changed, and we see that even if restrictions are lifted temporarily, opening up for testing new solutions might just become a permanent solution as we adapt to new methods or technology,” Ryste added.

Research in motion

Next year, Promare — a U.S.-based marine research and exploration organization — is scheduled to send a crewless ship across the Atlantic Ocean on the route the original Mayflower traveled 400 years ago.

Mayflower Autonomous Ship route map

Above: Mayflower Autonomous Ship route map

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is chiefly propelled by solar power, with a diesel generator on board as backup. IBM will power an onboard “AI Captain,” with the ship leveraging edge computing for its AI and navigational smarts. All the data processing must be available on the ship because a vessel in the middle of the ocean can’t rely on satellites or cloud connectivity.

The team behind the new Mayflower has trained the ship’s AI models using millions of maritime images collected from cameras in the Plymouth Sound, among other open source data sets. The Mayflower’s AI Captain is built to detect and identify ships and buoys — as well as other hazards — and to make decisions about what to do next. An onboard automatic identification system (AIS) can also access specific information about any vessels ahead, including their class, weight, speed, and cargo type, while the AI Captain can accept and interpret radio broadcast warnings from a cargo ship.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship's AI Captain in operation

Above: The Mayflower Autonomous Ship’s AI Captain in operation

This ship will carry research pods to gather data about ocean health, while simultaneously showcasing how an autonomous research vessel can manage on its own for two weeks at sea. It also sets the stage for further use cases, from defense and commercial shipping to marine insurance.

“Right now, we are focused on increasing the reliability of our autonomous systems and developing an ecosystem of partners — from IBM to equipment manufacturers to telecoms providers to insurance providers — to figure out how to commercially deploy the systems we have on [the] Mayflower,” Mayflower Autonomous Ship director Brett Phaneuf said. “What we are doing here is very much a research project for something much bigger than this one ship.”

AI and autonomy could certainly provide utility beyond cargo vessels. Research ships may spend weeks or months at sea collecting data about the ocean, and removing crews would facilitate longer missions by taking food storage and personal well-being out of the equation. In terms of the COVID-19 crisis, more automation could mean fewer people on board, which should help with social distancing efforts.

“We are already seeing the early examples of autonomous ferries, cargo ships, and research vessels like the Mayflower Autonomous Ship,” Phaneuf continued. “But perhaps the greater, more immediate need for autonomy is on manned vessels. This may sound counterintuitive, but there is an important role for autonomous systems on the manned ships of today, acting as a cocaptain, maintaining situational awareness, [and] providing recommendations and decision support to the human crew.”

We’re talking about “augmented intelligence,” as Phaneuf puts it, with machines helping people accomplish core tasks and reduce risks.

“A trusted autonomous system can reduce the stress on the bridge by consistently monitoring the overall navigational situation of the vessel,” Phaneuf added. “This will allow humans to get their heads up and out of the computer screens and instead looking out the window and doing what humans do best — making complex decisions swiftly and accurately.”

It might not make sense for certain types of vessels to become completely autonomous, whether for logistical, regulatory, or financial reasons. “This is not likely to be a zero-sum game, but more of a hybrid approach,” Phaneuf continued. “For example, it may not make sense to replace the whole crew of a container ship with a fully autonomous system because the cost of the crew actually represents very little in the overall value of the ship and its cargo. As such, there may not be an economic driver for this level of change. However, there are other factors to take into consideration — such as the well-being of the crew and equipping people with the skills they need for the shipping industry jobs of the future.”

The future of autonomous shipping

Many newer ships are already highly automated, at least in terms of being able to passively gather performance metrics for remote analysis, and technology can also enable diagnostics and repairs from afar. But the pandemic has highlighted the role automation can play.

Global trade today relies on ships and crews traversing vast oceans, and fully autonomous cargo vessels that can cover these distances are likely still a long way off, if they ever arrive. Barriers include technological and regulatory constraints, not to mention practical obstacles, such as the need to carry out maintenance on longer voyages. Domestic journeys are a natural starting point for autonomous ships because they don’t require international cooperation, and a vessel that remains relatively close to shore — such as the Yara Birkeland on its proposed route in southern Norway — can adhere to safety standards with on-shore personnel able to physically (or remotely) intervene in an emergency.

“From a regulatory perspective, the challenge (with longer, international automated routes) lies within the fact that the IMO (International Maritime Organization) does not have a common and internationally acknowledged way of granting approval [for] such vessels as the Yara Birkeland,” Ryste said. “This means there is a likelihood of encountering varying rules and regulations between flag states and port authorities. This is manageable for point-to-point operation but will be a too-demanding administrative task when more parties are involved — at least, at the moment.”

As COVID-19 shifts global structures and accelerates innovation, we’re already seeing how autonomous tools could help ships continue operating through future pandemics. And while some jobs will likely be lost as automation takes hold, technology is unlikely to replace humans across the board.

“For decades, autonomous systems have been used to assist humans in dangerous work, such as clearing up after accidents or dealing with highly dangerous substances or infectious diseases,” Phaneuf noted. As autonomous systems improve, their role “will likely increase, but [it] will need to be part of a larger, interconnected network of manned, unmanned, automated, and autonomous systems on water, in air, and on land.”

Source: venturebeat


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The ability to add automation to an existing marine vessel to make it autonomous is here today and is being proven by a Boston company. Sea Machines builds autonomous vessel software and systems for the marine industry. Founded in 2015, the company recently raised $15 million in a Series B round, making it total raised $27.5 million since 2017.

Founder and CEO Michael G. Johnson, a licensed marine engineer, recently took the time to answer via email some questions AI Trends poses to selected startups.

Describe your team, the key people

Sea Machines is led by a team of mariners, engineers, coders and autonomy scientists. The company today has a crew of 30 people based in Boston; Hamburg, Germany; and Esbjerg, Denmark. Sea Machines is also hiring for a variety of positions, which can be viewed at sea-machines.com/careers.

What business problem are you trying to solve?

The global maritime industry is responsible for billions in economic output and is a major driver of jobs and commerce. Despite the sector’s success and endurance, it faces significant challenges that can negatively impact operator safety, performance and profitability. Sea Machines is solving many of these challenges by developing technologies that are helping the marine industry transition into a new era of task-driven, computer-guided vessel operations.

How does your solution address the problem?

Autonomous systems solve for these challenges in several ways:

Autonomous grid and waypoint following capabilities relieve mariners from manually executing planned routes. Today’s autonomous systems uniquely execute with human-like behavior, intelligently factoring in environmental and sea conditions (including wave height, pitch, heave and roll); change speeds between waypoints; and actively detect obstacles for collision avoidance purposes.
Autonomous marine systems also enable optionally manned or autonomous-assist (reduced crew) modes that can reduce mission delays and maximize effort. This is an important feature for anyone performing time-sensitive operations, such as on-water search-and-rescues or other urgent missions.

Autonomous marine systems offer obstacle detection and collision avoidance capabilities that keep people and assets safe and out of harm’s way. These advanced technologies are much more reliable and accurate than the human eye, especially in times of low light or in poor sea conditions.

Because today’s systems enable remote-helm control and remote payload management, there is a reduced need for mariners (such as marine fire or spill response crews) to physically man a vessel in a dangerous environment. A remote-helm control beltpack also improves visibility by enabling mariners to step outside of the wheelhouse to whatever location provides the best vantage point when performing tight maneuvers, dockings and other precision operations.

Autonomous marine systems enable situational awareness with multiple cameras and sensors streaming live over a 4G connection. This real-time data allows shoreside or at-sea operators a full view of an autonomous vessel’s environment, threats and opportunities.

Minimally manned vessels can autonomously collaborate to cover more ground with less resources required, creating a force-multiplier effect. A single shoreside operator can command multiple autonomous boats with full situational awareness.

These areas of value overlap for all sectors but for the government and military sector, new on-water capabilities and unmanned vessels are a leading driver. By contrast, the commercial sector is looking for increased productivity, efficiency, and predictable operations. Our systems meet all of these needs. Our technology is designed to be installed on new vessels as well as existing vessels. Sea Machines’ ability to upgrade existing fleets greatly reduces the time and cost to leverage the value of our autonomous systems.

How are you getting to the market? Is there competition?

Sea Machines has an established dealer program to support the company’s global sales across key commercial marine markets. The program includes many strategic partners who are enabled to sell, install and service the company’s line of intelligent command and control systems for workboats. To date, Sea Machines dealers are located across the US and Canada, in Europe, in Singapore and UAE. We have competition for autonomous marine systems, but our products are the only ones that are retrofit ready, not requiring new vessels to be built.

Do you have any users or customers?

Yes we have achieved significant sales traction since launching our SM series of products in 2018. Just since the summer, Sea Machines has been awarded several significant contracts and partnerships:

The first allowed us to begin serving the survey vessel market with the first announced collaboration with DEEP BV in the Netherlands. DEEP’s vessel outfitted with the SM300 entered survey service very recently.
Next, we partnered with Castine-based Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) and representatives of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD)’s Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance (META) Program to bring valuable, hands-on education about autonomous marine systems into the MMA curriculum.

Then we recently announced a partnership with shipbuilder Metal Shark Boats, of Jeanerette, Louisiana, to supply the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)’s Research and Development Center (RDC) with a new Sharktech 29 Defiant vessel for the purposes of testing and evaluating the capabilities of available autonomous vessel technology. USCG demonstrations are happening now (through November 5) off the coast of Hawaii.

Finally, just this month, we announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) awarded us with a multi-year Other Transaction (OT) agreement. The primary purpose of the agreement is to initiate a prototype that will enable commercial ocean-service barges as autonomous Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) units for an Amphibious Maritime Projection Platform (AMPP). Specifically, Sea Machines will engineer, build and demonstrate ready-to-deploy system kits that enable autonomous, self-propelled operation of opportunistically available barges to land and replenish military aircraft.

In the second half of 2020 we are also commencing onboard collaborations with some crew-transfer vessel (CTV) operators serving the wind farm industry.

How is the company funded?

The company recently completed a successful Series B round, which provided $15M in funds, with a total amount raised of $27.5M since 2017. The most recent funds we were able to raise are going to significantly impact Sea Machines, and therefore the maritime and marine industries as a whole. The funds will be put to use to further strengthen our technical development team as well as build out our next level of systems manufacturing and scale our operations group to support customer deployments. We will also be investing in some supporting technologies to speed our course to full dock-to-dock, over-the-horizon autonomy. The purpose of our technology is to optimize vessel operations with increased performance, productivity, predictability and ultimately safety.

In closing, we’d like to add that the marine industries are a critically significant component of the global economy and it’s up to us to keep it strong and relevant. Along with people, processes and capital, pressing the bounds of technology is a key driver. The world is being revolutionized by intelligent and autonomous self-piloting technology and today we find ourselves just beyond the starting line of a busy road to broad adoption through all marine sectors. If Sea Machines continues to chart the course with forward-looking pertinence, then you will see us rise up to become one of the most significant companies and brands serving the industry in the 21st century.

Any anecdotes/stories?

This month we released software version 1.7 on our SM300. That’s seven significant updates in just over 18 months, each one providing increased technical hardening and new features for specific workboat sectors.

Another interesting story is about our Series B funding, which, due to the pandemic, we raised virtually. Because of where we are as a company, we have been proving our ability to retool the marine industry with our technology, and therefore we are delivering confidence to investors. We were forced to conduct the entire process by video conference, which may have increased overall efficiency of the raise as these rounds traditionally require thousands if not tens of thousands of miles of travel for face-to-face meetings, diligence, and handshakes. Remote pitches also proved to be an advantage because it allowed us to showcase our technology in a more direct way. We did online demos where we had our team remotely connected to our vessels off Boston Harbor. We were able to get the investors into the captain’s chair, as if they were remotely commanding a vessel in real-world operations.

In January, we announced the receipt of ABS and USCG approval for our SM200 wireless helm and control systems on a major class of U.S.-flag articulated tug-barges (ATBs), the first unit has been installed and is in operation, and we look forward to announcing details around it. We will be taking the SM200 forward into the type-approval process.

Source: sea-machines


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Captain Ben Moore will enter service between Norwalk and Huntington, NY, to deliver food and other cargo faster, more reliably and more affordably than truck transportation to East Norwalk’s Harbor Harvest food market, while also reducing regional highway congestion. Comparable trucking services require a near nine-hour round trip to deliver within this location. First Harvest Navigation completes the terminal-to-terminal voyage in approximately 35 to 45 minutes.

“Part of our transportation goals are to develop autonomous, hybrid catamarans to move farm products across Long Island Sound. The Sea Machines SM300 autonomous navigation system will help us achieve many of our goals because it enables shipping movements to be completed very reliably and efficiently in a seamless and sustainable delivery system,” said Bob Kunkel, president, First Harvest Navigation. “Shifting cargo from streets and highways also alleviates the growing congestion, lower emissions and reestablishes our waterways as a viable and cost-efficient alternative to land-based transport.”

“Sea Machines and First Harvest Navigation are aligned in our commitments to innovation to bolster the U.S. marine highway system and in our support of family farms,” said Michael G. Johnson, founder and CEO, Sea Machines. “The SM300 ensures predictable and performance-based vessel operations while providing a 24/7 crew support system that is always on watch. It often takes determined entrepreneurial leaders like First Harvest Navigation to move an industry into new waters and Sea Machines is pleased to support the achievement of their goals.”

The hybrid vessel can carry approximately 28 pallets, 10 of which are positioned in a fully refrigerated and protected walk-in space. The remaining cargo spaces are open and covered according to customer requirements. It is powered by a pair of Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels, generating 104 kW each at 2,400 kW, and lithium batteries connected to a pair of BAE Systems HybriDrive electric motors.


Harbor Harvest & First Harvest Navigation
Harbor Harvest is dedicated to developing the relationship between farmer, harbor and customer. Their mission is to provide convenient access to healthy, nutritious food sourced from local and regional farms and artisans at a price that supports the local community. First Harvest Navigation and Harbor Harvest are providing new regional transportation, warehousing and retail marketing for family farms, local business and artisan products within New York and New England areas. More: www.harborharvest.com

About Sea Machines Robotics
Headquartered in the global tech hub of Boston and operating globally, Sea Machines is the leader in pioneering autonomous command and control systems for the marine and maritime industries. Founded in 2015, the company builds autonomous vessel software and systems, which increases the safety, efficiency and performance of ships, workboats and other commercial vessels.

Source: sea-machines


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Advancements in sensor technologies for environmental monitoring, improved navigation, object detection, and collision avoidance, image processing algorithms, and machine vision have created opportunities for marine shipping companies to integrate a wide range of solutions for autonomous vessels.

Sensors are expected to be pivotal in the development of connected and autonomous ships. Apart from devices communicating with each other, future autonomous ships will interact with the environment around, thereby leading to various forms of business opportunities with the collected data.

This research service focuses on capturing emerging technologies enabling autonomous ships, industries best practices and use cases. Growth opportunity assessment was done to assess the pathway of sensor technology development, which will lead to making autonomous ships a reality.

Key questions addressed in the research service:

  • What are the various types of sensor technologies enabling autonomous ships?
  • What are the benefits and applications of the technology?
  • What are the key innovations and who are the innovators impacting autonomous ship development?
  • What are the use case scenarios in the autonomous shipping arena?
  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on autonomous ships?
  • What are future growth opportunities?

Key Topics Covered

1. Executive Summary
1.1 Research Scope
1.2 Research Methodology
1.3 Research Methodology Explained
1.4 Summary of Key Findings

2. Marine Autonomous Ships – An Overview
2.1 Marine Autonomous Ships – A Sneak Preview
2.2 Technologies Encouraging Development of Autonomous Ships
2.3 Satellite Communication and Space-based Sensors Aid in Garnering Information from Above the Ship
2.4 Sensor Fusion, Image Sensors, and UAVs Aid in Environmental Monitoring for Autonomous Ships
2.5 Echosounder, Side-scan Sonar, Forward-looking Sonar, and UUVs Play a Vital Role in Underwater Assessment for Autonomous Ships

3. Assessment of Industry Best Practices and Recent Initiatives
3.1 Strategic Partnership Paves the Way for Development of Autonomous Ship
3.2 International Maritime Organization Aids in the Framework for Marine Autonomous Surface Ships
3.3 Guidelines Lay Out Risk Mitigating Approaches and Autonomous Shipping Concepts
3.4 Regulatory Bodies for Ships Define Degrees of Autonomy

4. Implementation Case Scenario of Autonomous Ships
4.1 Demonstrations of Autonomous Cargo Indicate Reduced Fuel Consumption
4.2 Autonomous Ferry Demonstration Lays the Foundation for Development of Autonomous Ships
4.3 Demonstrations of Autonomous Vessels Indicate the Capabilities of Remotely Operated Marine Vessels to Gather Sea Data

5. Companies to Action
5.1 Stakeholder Initiatives – Rolls Royce Leads Various Initiatives in the Autonomous Ships Arena
5.2 Stakeholder Initiatives – Enabling Technologies for Autonomous Ships
5.3 Stakeholder Ecosystem – Demonstrations and Upcoming Autonomous Ship Projects in 2020

6. Impact of COVID19 on Autonomous Shipping
6.1 Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Shipping Industry and Advancements in Autonomous Shipping

7. Growth Opportunities of Emerging Technologies for Autonomous Ships
7.1 Growth Opportunities of Autonomous Ships Across Potential Applications
7.2 Growth Opportunity 1: Disruptive Potential of Autonomous Ships
7.3 Growth Opportunity 2: R&D Partnerships of Autonomous Ships

8. Industry Contacts
8.1 Key Industry Contacts

Source: globenewswire


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Cargo owners and many of the largest charterers typically require a Condition Assessment (CAP) Survey.  Charterers prefer a CAP Grade of 1 or 2 to fix older vessels identified to carry their cargo. The commercial opportunities for an older tanker, gas carrier, bulk carrier and more recently a containership and an offshore supply vessel without a satisfactory CAP rating may be limited.

WHAT IS CAP?

A Condition Assessment Program is the recognized method for an asset owner to demonstrate the quality and suitability of an asset for charter. The program provides a charterer with a technical evaluation of the physical condition and maintenance of a vessel above the requirements for Class.

The program includes a detailed survey of the vessel’s hull structure including verification of gaugings as well as extensive testing of the vessel’s machinery, equipment and cargo systems. This information combined with a strength and fatigue engineering analysis leads to a numeric rating being assigned to the vessel.

CONDITION ASSESSMENT PROGRAM DETAILS

Assess physical condition and maintenance of vessel above the minimum requirements for Class

  • Review of Class Records
  • Fatigue Analysis
  • Condition Assessment Survey
  • Verification of Gaugings
  • Structural Evaluation
  • CAP Report and Grade

WHY CAP WITH FATIGUE ASSESSMENT?

The major charterers have introduced even tougher CAP standards as a requirement for charter. They demand that the CAP 1 or 2 rating include a detailed Fatigue Assessment. Other charterers are expected to follow this lead. CAP is able to quickly and cost effectively assess the cumulative impact of fatigue on a vessel’s critical structural components.

Source: eagle


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Many shipowners are facing challenges in finalizing the Inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) required under the upcoming European Union’s Ship Recycling Regulations (EUSRR) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, BIMCO, the world’s largest shipowner association, said.

Namely, as of December 31, 2020, the regulations will require ships of 500 GT and above flying the flag of an EU country, and all other ships regardless of the flag, to carry an inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) when visiting an EU or European Economic Area (EEA) port.

The association reached out to its members in May to see if the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak had presented challenges to shipowners, who were in the process of completing their IHM and obtaining the necessary documentation prior to the compliance deadline.

“The responses showed that approximately 137 (58%) of the 236 ships operated by the respondents would be affected by the new regulation. Out of the affected ships, 33 (24%) had completed the process, while the rest were at various stages of compliance. The IHM process of almost all the respondents had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” BIMCO said.

As a result, BIMCO and other shipping organisations have signed a letter addressed to the EU Commission, outlining the challenges posed by the pandemic and asking the commission to consider a time-limited implementation or grace period to enable shipping companies to complete the IHM process whilst coping with the COVID-19 restrictions and interruptions.

The letter also includes a set of Industry Guidelines on European Union Ship Recycling Regulation Compliance and Developing Inventories of Hazardous Materials that BIMCO members are encouraged to use.

“If the December 31, 2020 deadline cannot be met, BIMCO recommends the development of IHMs on the oldest ships first. Old ships are in general more likely to be recycled and such a risk-based planning will demonstrate how shipowners are working proactively in accordance with the spirit of the new EU regulation,” BIMCO added.

Source: offshore


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The bunkering took place on 9 October in Dutch waters in line with EPS’ environmental, social and governance policy. The company said the policy calls for the testing and using alternative marine fuels to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.

EPS was supplied with a residual-fuel equivalent biofuel oil (BFO). The BFO’s performance will be tested and analysed on Pacific Beryl and other classes of EPS-managed ships in the near future.

EPS said the biofuel trial highlights the company’s readiness to invest in biofuels. EPS chief executive Cyril Ducau said “We are fully committed to investing in and taking action to lower our carbon footprint. At EPS, we believe that sustainability begins with accountability, which is why we are taking a mixed marine fuel approach towards reducing our emissions.

“We are already implementing LNG and LPG across 30 of our newbuilds, but we need to look at other options for our existing fleet. Biofuels, such as the advanced, sustainable biofuels supplied by Goodfuels, provides us with a solution that matches our values and sustainability agenda. Our whole team is looking forward to the results of this trial and expects biofuels to be another example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Goodfuels’ chief operating officer Bart Hellings said “This announcement marks yet another important milestone in accelerating the energy transition within shipping. We are delighted this test with EPS was a success and want to thank them for fully embracing a carbon-busting solution that is scalable, truly sustainable, technically compliant and affordable.”

Earlier this year Goodfuels completed successful biofuel trials aboard Stena Bulk’s 49,646-dwt MR tanker Stena Immortal and Minship’s 30,790-dwt tanker MV Trudy.

Source: rivieramm


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New environmental rules are coming into force and Global Maritime is ready to help you with certified experts to perform IHM analysis. Going forward Shipowners and Shipbuilders must demonstrate safe and environmentally viable management of Hazardous Material.

Global Maritime has experts certified as “Approved Hazmat Experts” by DNV-GL and can assist with an effective process for generation of correct IHMs, to comply with the following new regulations:

EUSRR – European Ship Recycling Regulations

HKC – Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe Environment Sound Recycling of Ships

 

What is Inventory of Hazardous Material (IHM)?

An IHM is a document that states what types and quantities of hazardous materials are present on board your vessel.

The IHM Consists of three (3) Parts:

PART I: Hazardous materials contained in the Ship’s Structure and equipment

PART II: Operationally generated wastes

PART III: Stores

(PART II & III Should be prepared only prior Recycling)

 

How are these new regulations being implemented?

EU-Flagged New-buildings are required to have onboard a verified IHM with a statement of Compliance 31st December 2018, at the latest

Existing EU-Flagged vessels are required to have onboard a verified IHM with statement of compliance at 31st December 2020, at the latest

Non-EU-Flagged vessels calling EU ports are required to have onboard a verified IHM with a statement of compliance at the earliest by 31st December 2020.

Source: globalmaritime


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The Hong Kong Convention requires a certified Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) for each vessel no later 5 years after entry into force of the Convention, which probably will happen many years ahead of us.  Nevertheless, the EU has implemented the EU Ship Recycling Regulation setting a clear deadline for IHM onboard. The EU Regulation has entered into force in 2013 allowing the industry 7 years for compliance with the requirement. Legislators also provide related guidelines like e.g. Guidelines for the Development of IHM (Res. MEPC.269(68)); Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling (Res. MEPC.210(63)) and; ECSA Best Practice Guidance on IHM.

The IHM is needed for identification of suitable Ship Recycler by owners. It can be used for identifying risks during ship operations as it informs crew, repair and conversion yards about hazardous materials onboard, contributing to incident and accident preparedness and response. It enables ship recyclers to plan the recycling of a ship by considering hazardous material during ship recycling and planning of decontamination activities in order to deploy specifically trained workers, select and use of proper PPE (personal protective equipment) and plan in advance the removal and disposals of HazMats. Also, ships are getting ready for recycling certification needed. The IHM for new ships is completely different from the IHM of existing ships. In my opinion, IHM for new ships requires much more effort as it is much more time consuming.

IHM for new ships

The shipyard is responsible for compiling the IHM based on information provided by suppliers via the Suppliers Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) and the Material Declaration (MD) in which the supplier makes a clear statement whether or not HazMats are contained. If they are contained, the supplier must specify place and quantity. The EU has added two more HazMats, the so called PFOS and HBCDD, therefore the EU IHM is different from the IMO IHM.

IHM for existing ships

The owner is responsible for the IHM which should be prepared by IHM professionals and is based on investigation, samplings, analyses, calculations and documentation. The accuracy of an IHM depends on planning; expertise on sampling locations (materials – indicative lists); number of samples taken; detail of documentation; laboratory standards and expertise; and the interpretation of laboratory results.

EU Regulation on Ship Recycling

New ships are required to have an IHM onboard from 30 Dec 2015 while all existing ships under EU-flag or any flag when visitng an EU-port, until 30 Dec 2020. All EU-ships heading sent for recycling since end of 2016 are obliged to have a certified IHM onboard as well.

The Hong Kong Convention will apply to approximately 48,000 ships while the EU Regulation on Ship Recycling to 30,000 ships. The deadline means that from today and onwards until 2020, 36ships per day have to get a certified IHM. The truth is that at the moment we´re far below this figure; the industry is not prepared.

There are three possible scenarios regarding the supply and demand of the IHM:

Firstly, to have a linear increase due to constant demand and doubling of supply every year.

Secondly, to have a gradual increase due to increasing demand and supply.. At the moment, there is more supply than demand, meaning that if you go for an IHM at the moment, you can easily negotiate on the price. We are expecting in the couple years this situation to change as supply & demand ratio affects pricing. This means that prices will go up in future.

Thirdly, to have a progressive increase which I believe it is most likely due to last minute rush for the IHM-deadline, as previous examples in the industry have indicated as well. In that case, the supply will try to follow the demand and of course the price will go up higher.

Nevertheless, no matter what, I do believe that it is highly unlikely for all the 30,000 ships to have an IHM onboard at the end of 2020. When I discussed about it at the European Commission, they didn’t consider granting extensions, because the industry had seven years to prepare from entry into force of EU-Regulation in 2013.

In conclusion, the deadlines are fixed and a huge number of ships is addressed, therefore, an increase of IHM-orders is necessary. IHMA global network ensures compliant and effective IHM preparations already and plans for training of more IHM experts. Owners are advised to ensure timely preparation, therefore, the following actions are recommended:

  • For existing fleet: acquire IHM latest by 2020; order HazMat Professional for IHM soon and get class for certification of IHM
  • For new builds: include IHM in building specification (since end of 2015) and get class for certification of IHM
  • For last voyage: the EU ships must have a certified IHM onboard and be scrapped at a recycler who is included in the EU-list (published in Dec. 2016)
  • For operation: nominate a designated person, use data repository to maintain IHM; set up process to get MDs and SDoCs (suppliers need intensive communication with their supply chains and this may take long time).

Source: safety4sea


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