New Autonomous Shipping In Ports Network In Development

The British Ports Association (BPA) has announced that it is creating a new Autonomous Shipping in Ports Network, now looking for evidence from the maritime community as to what should be considered in preparation for receiving such ships in the future.

Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) involve automation of both onboard processes and the vessels themselves, potentially altering how ships and ports interact with one another.

The new Network will be open to all the BPA’s port members, as well as drawing on external expertise from specialists in the sector.

It is now looking for feedback on topics such as how the land-sea interface will be changed, what physical and digital infrastructure will be required to receive MASS, which types of shipping activities could be the first to embrace automation and so on.

Chief executive of the BPA Richard Ballantyne said: “The prospect of seeing autonomous ships in UK ports is definitely on the horizon but there will be much to do to prepare ourselves.

“This includes the consideration for port and marine operations, regulatory frameworks, infrastructure and receptions facilities, land to vessel communications and vessel safety.”

Maritime UK recently published updated guidance on autonomous vessels, with added focus on inland waterways and further expansion on the principles involved that underpin the design, manufacture and operation of such ships.

The first code of practice was published back in November 2017 and, although not a legal text, it has been used by service providers, manufacturers and others as part of their daily work.

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