US-based classification society
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has joined the Unmanned Cargo Ship
Development Alliance, a group of class organisations, shipyards, equipment
manufacturers and designers that aims to collaboratively advance and promote
autonomous shipping operations.
Launched in Shanghai in June, the
Unmanned Cargo Ship Development Alliance, chaired by the Chinese holding company
HNA Technology Group Co, was formed with nine members, including CCS, China
Ship Research & Development Institute, Shanghai Marine Diesel Engine
Research Institute, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Marine Design
Research Institute of China (MARIC), Rolls-Royce, and Wartsila.
The alliance has set the
goal of delivering an unmanned cargo ship by October 2021.
This launch is a response to the market
wherein more shipping companies have begun to evince interest in autonomous
technologies for application in their businesses.
“Increased digitization, advanced technologies
and new levels of connectivity are changing the way the maritime industry
operates,” says ABS Greater China Division President Eric Kleess. “In the
coming years, we will see significant changes in the way ships are designed and
built, with a strong drive to develop autonomous vessels especially in China.
As a key member of this alliance, ABS is aligned closely with industry to
support safer and more sustainable maritime operations. ”
ABS said the design of the unmanned
vessel will integrate features of independent decision-making, autonomous
navigation, environmental perception and remote control.
“Through this collaborative effort, we
will apply the latest technologies to develop a new autonomous ship concept,”
says HNA Technology Group Vice Chairman Li Weijian. “The newly formed alliance
is advancing new innovations in ship design and operations, and also working to
promote the safe adoption of these assets in the market.”