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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Insurance for an autonomous vessel future

Wed 16 May 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Insurance for an autonomous vessel future
Fleets of autonomous ships could be operating in congested waters in the next 25 years

Shipowners considering operating remote control ships or autonomous vessels will need insurance for these assets and to protect and assure third parties.

There is increasing interest in developing unmanned shipping and IMO is debating how to regulate these future operations in London this week.

Key questions that continue to arise in debates surrounding crewless operations is quantifying risk and producing insurance to cover this.

Owners of tugs operating in the UK questioned technology pioneers Maersk Group’s Svitzer, Rolls-Royce, Kongsberg Maritime and Lloyd’s Register on how they expect insurance will be developed to cover future risks.

There was lively debate at the British Tugowners Association annual summit that Marine Electronics & Communications attended in April.

In response to these questions and others, AXA Corporate Solutions has started working with Rolls-Royce’s marine arm to develop insurance that can cover risks of accidents that could involve a crewless vessel.

As there is more interest in operating unmanned ships, AXA will use its risk analytics capabilities to deliver solutions for future maritime requirements.

Rolls-Royce will assist by providing its intelligence awareness products and early experience in helping vessel operators develop remote control technology

“Insurers are a key part of our vision of the future,” said Rolls-Royce senior vice president of ship intelligence Karno Tenovuo.

Rolls-Royce data analytics, equipment health information and experience from providing intelligent navigation could be used by AXA to improve hull and machinery insurance.

AXA is already working on insuring autonomous land vehicles and expects that knowledge will be used to develop insurance for autonomous ships.

Rolls-Royce and AXA will consider the changing risk profiles of maritime operations that come from increasing levels of remote control and ship automation.

Svitzer is working with Rolls-Royce and Lloyd’s Register to demonstrate remote control of a harbour and escort tug, using 2016-built Svitzer Hermod and a control centre in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Kongsberg has provided technology to Yara’s industry-first autonomous ship, Yara Birkeland, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2019.

IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee is discussing methods of regulating autonomous ships in the future. It is meeting between 16-25 May and will begin looking at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments.

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