Automation in marine travel
The increasing automation in seafaring, within ships as well as in logistics, will change the movement of people and goods. It will also improve the safety of sea travel.
At present, autonomy in seafaring is still at a relatively early stage. So far, only small vessels and short distances can be operated autonomically. However, automation has increased and continues to do so. With the help of this technology, we can try to avoid accidents and dangerous situations caused by human errors as well as enhance seafaring.
Besides regulations, the development of communication links is a central theme in promoting automation in seafaring. There are still blind spots in the communications potentials of vessels and, overall, communications links have limited capacity.
It is still challenging to solve problems related to communications and international legislation. Thus, it will take a long time to achieve full automation in seafaring. Another delay in the progress of automation is the service life of vessels, which may be up to 40 years. Vessels built today, with a relatively low level of automation, will be in traffic for the next few decades from now alongside newer automatic ships.
Even though the development of autonomous seafaring is still in its infancy, Finland has a strong will to act as a pioneer in the field, and to make seafaring safer and more effective. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency supports these aims and has, for example, carried out an intelligent fairway trial. During it, new digital services and real-time situational pictures will be tested and piloted. These are done both Automated vessel traffic
In shipping, autonomous vessels and automated logistics functions will change the mobility of people and goods and improve safety at sea.
At present, automated vessel traffic is still at a relatively early stage: so far only small vessels and short distances can be operated automatically. The automation of long voyages or larger vessels is restricted by regulations, for instance. In addition to regulations, development of communication links is a key aspect of promoting automated vessel traffic, as there are still blind spots in the communication possibilities of vessels. However, the development progress is accelerating and has included trials to promote automation.
Since it is still challenging to solve problems related to communication and international legislation, it will take a long time to achieve fully autonomous vessels. Another element of delay to the progress of automation is the service life of vessels, which may be up to 40 years. Vessels built today, whose level of automation is relatively low, will be in traffic for the next few decades along with newer automated vessels.
Even if the development of automated vessel traffic is still in its infancy, Finland holds a strong ambition to act as a pioneer in the field and achieve safer and more effective shipping. The aim is that an autonomous maritime ecosystem will be effective in Finland by 2025. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency supports these aims and has, for example, initiated an intelligent fairway trial. During it, new digital services and real-time situational pictures will be tested and piloted. These are executed both within vessel systems and in the systems of the Vessel Traffic Services. The teachings gained from this trial will provide important information and stimulus, which will be used to develop the intelligent fairway concept further. This has been launched in The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The aim of this development work is to produce cost-effective solutions in co-operation with other actors. These will be used to improve the safety and effectiveness of seafaring. Through the whole, preconditions for increasing the automatisation of ships can be created while also remembering tradition sea travel.