ABB has completed a trial of a remotely operated passenger ferry near Finland’s Helsinki harbour, paving the way for autonomous shipping.

Global shipping took a giant leap forward earlier this week as Rolls-Royce Marine and Finferries successfully completed the world’s first truly autonomous voyage, deploying the car ferry Falco in the congested waters of the archipelago, just south of the city of Turku in western Finland.

Wilhelmsen Ship Management (WSM), DNV GL, Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) and University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) have entered into a strategic partnership to set the tone for operational and regulatory framework in autonomous shipping.

Wärtsilä has opened a technology Acceleration Centre in Singapore with its first project to develop an autonomous tug, or IntelliTug, in partnership with the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and customer PSA Marine.

Rolls-Royce is to use Intel processing power in its continued to drive to develop autonomous shipping.

Kongsberg, the Norwegian company leading the world in autonomous shipping, has sought to allay fears that technological advancements will lead to widespread job losses in the industry.

A survey by UK-based seafaring union Nautilus International has found a scepticism towards autonomous shipping and an overwhelming belief such vessels will be a threat to safety at sea.

In the first article of this two-part series international shipping lawyer Torgeir Willumsen takes a closer look at key commercial and legal obstacles to autonomous shipping.

A smart shipping survey of Seatrade Maritime News readers found that while the vast majority believe the research into autonomous shipping was valuable, most believed the unmanned vessel was some way off.

The hype around autonomous shipping fails to take into account the value the human being can bring onboard a ship and the real cost of replacing seafarers, argues Anglo-Eastern ceo Bjorn Hojgaard.

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