New guidance provides the route to classification with six levels for autonomous ships
Lloyd’s Register (LR) has set out the ‘how’ of marine autonomous operations in a new ShipRight procedure guidance, which describes autonomy levels (AL) ranging from 'AL 1' through to 'AL 6' denoting a fully autonomous ship with no access required during a mission.
The 'AL' system of levels provides clarity to designers, shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, ship owners and operators, enabling accurate specification of the desired level of autonomy in design and operations and paves the way to a clearer understanding of the investment opportunity/risk equation.
The procedure takes the user from identifying the initial 'business need' to a 'systems classed' status of a design and a ship, ultimately, in operation.
Luis Benito, LR Head of Innovation Strategy & Research, says that autonomous ships are a reality: “Maybe a few years ago this was seen as unlikely. Today, the market wants autonomous ships that can be operated with varying levels of control. So, we have now described and delivered the levels required to make decisions enabling the design, construction and operation of autonomous ships to take place. The levels provide a procedure to address the safety and practical issues required to meet classification, regulatory and market drivers.”
LR is working with other industry players to make autonomous shipping a practical reality, and the guidance has been peer reviewed by technology companies
Benito added, “In the future everything will be cheaper, but with better performance. That’s what the market is looking for. But most importantly, from LR’s perspective, as well as being more cost effective, shipping can also be safer. Safety will reduce costs. We are only at the start of the cyber ship and a cyber-enabled shipping industry but we are making amazing progress. We are trying to help the industry adopt the data, digital and connectivity technologies could deliver benefits to shipping – and to help keep ships safe.”
“We are working with clients to create the new generations of cyber ship safety, security and maintenance monitoring and performance guidance that will help secure improved performance and return on investment. Autonomy is one part of our cyber shipping opportunities,” Benito said.