Autonomous Shipping – Small Steps Not A Giant Leap

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The paraphrasing of Neil Armstrong’s words some fifty years ago sums up one visionary’s thoughts on the impact of autonomy on the future of global shipping.

A presentation by Filip Koscielecki of the UK Club entitled ‘Autonomous Shipping – Revolution by Evolution’ took his enthralled audience through the vast array of technical, regulatory, commercial and legal issues that are potentially created by the inevitable progression towards more autonomous ships.

Among other considerations which present challenges to autonomy Filip explored the seaworthiness and navigating capabilities of unmanned or restricted crew vessels; greater exposure to cyber-attack; the consequences of robotics and AI control of ships and legal responsibility and liability.

“The benefits of autonomous shipping are many and will drive the future progress of such technology in what may, in the future be termed revolutionary,” said Filip. “However the wide-spread ramifications that will surely disrupt the traditional shipping environment will have to be carefully managed. Therefore, evolutionary steps towards autonomy will characterise the path of such progression.”

The recent industry soirée, organised by WISTA UK as part of its regular programme of networking meetings accompanied by an in-depth lecture on a shipping issue of the day, was hosted by Thomas Miller managed insurance mutuals, the UK P&I Club and the UK Defence Club.

Bridget Hogan, Secretary of WISTA UK gave thanks to Thomas Miller for its support. “At WISTA we believe in free-thinking and cordial debate on vital issues affecting maritime and trade. We hold monthly events to bring together professionals from across the whole spectrum of shipping to educate themselves, present their opinions and meet like-minded colleagues who hope to make a difference.”

The insurance mutuals that hosted this event are representative of the Thomas Miller Group’s aim to share its technical and legal expertise with not just those that it insures but the maritime sector as a whole. The resources, skills and experience of the Group’s claims, legal, underwriting and risk management personnel qualify it to advise on a variety of subjects touching the present and future make-up of the industry.

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