Network of Ports for Autonomous Shipping in the UK

The British Ports Association launched a new initiative on 24 August 2020 that will examine the impact of autonomous shipping on UK ports. The automation of ships and shipping processes is expected to affect the interaction of ports and ships as well. As part of this new initiative, the British Ports Association has started building an Autonomous Shipping in Ports Network and published an open call for ideas from the wider shipping community on issues that ports need to address in order to prepare properly for receiving autonomous ships in the future. These issues are expected to relate, inter alia, to the relevant regulatory frameworks, reception facilities, related infrastructure, port-ship communication, ship security issues, and general port and maritime operations.

It is worth noting that autonomous shipping is already actively supported by 8 countries with strong shipping industries, namely China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Organizations from these countries have already started building an international network to prepare ports for receiving autonomous ships. At the same time, various private companies are entering the market of autonomous ships. Rolls-Royce took its first steps in this market in 2018. On 3 December 2018, Rolls-Royce and the Finnish public company Finferries, which manages ferry boats, made the first successful demonstration of an autonomous ferry boat in the archipelago which lies south of the city of Turku. This ferry boat used a combination of Rolls-Royce technologies for its autonomous navigation, while part of the demonstration route was performed with remote control.


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