The government will allow pilotless ships

The government will allow pilotless ships

20-03-2017 15:00:00

Pilotless ships will improve safety at sea and reduce costs. By 2020 it should be possible to insert pilotless ships in Danish waters according to the Industry Minister Brian Mikkelsen, who wants to change legislation to pave the way for pilotless ships.

"I can easily imagine passenger ferries without a real captain on the bridge. When I use the metro in Copenhagen, there's not a driver in front, and it is even safer than if there was a driver who could fall asleep or sit and play video games," says the Minister to DR.

Brian Mikkelsen refers to a preliminary analysis conducted by the Danish Maritime Authority and DTU. The report shows that human error during the period 2011 to 2016 was a trigger in 62 percent of incidents with ships registered in the EU. The report is based on experience with self-driving cars and unmanned aircraft. Similar projects with ships have also been looked at.

According to the report "A preliminary analysis of autonomous ships" from DTU Electrical Engineering Department of Management Engineering and Maritime Authority, it is obvious to make these types of ships pilotless:
Smaller island ferries, barges, tugs, supply and service vessels for oil rigs, wind turbines and surface vessels for the servicing of underwater and drone units for offshore inspection.

In addition to providing greater security, pilotless ships will make it cheaper to transport cargo freight and perhaps lower ticket prices since crews will be minimal. Hopefully it will also mean cheaper goods for consumers, because transport costs are included in the price.

According to Brian Mikkelsen, pilotless ships could operate in Danish waters in a very short time. He could not give a precise answer as to when the first pilotless ships will be sailing around in Danish waters but guarantees that it will be before 2020.

"I'm certainly going to lead the charge of having it implemented in Denmark as the first country in the world in a responsible manner. For we are a maritime nation," says Brian Mikkelsen.

According to the minister, there is legislation which prevents the use of pilotless ships. Among other things, it is required that the bridge is manned, and in some situations also requires a person to monitor the surrounding waters.

At the Danish Maritime Authority, Deputy Director Troels Blicher Danielsen believes that the pilotless ships can increase security and create growth in the industry. The Deputy Director expects that the pilotless ships will come no matter what, and that Denmark might as well take a leading position.

The perspective is large and will particularly be focused on the parts of shipping that are coastal. It can put Denmark on the map in regards to the digital development that's affecting shipping at the moment," says Troels Blicher Danielsen to DR.

Source: DR / Maritime Denmark

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