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Autonomous Shipping Risk Assessment Study Led by ClassNK Begins 

risj assessment for autonomous shipping
NYK tested remote navigation and autonomous operations with one of its tugboats (file photo)

Published Mar 26, 2021 4:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

With global efforts accelerating toward the practical use of technology for autonomous operation of ships, numerous questions arise regarding the risks associated with the use of these technologies and how it will impact the shipping industry. The classification society ClassNK has begun joint investigative research with Sompo Japan Insurance for a risk assessment of autonomous ships.

Many people in the shipping industry and technology believe the use of autonomous operations or remote control may be a promising way to improve safety by preventing human error related to ship maneuvering, It also is viewed in some regions, including Japan, as a way to address some of the growing shortages of qualified mariners as well as to improve working conditions by reducing the workload of crew members. 

With the implementation of demonstration projects and the development of the guidelines led by the government, the framework for safety evaluation is in progress in Japan according to ClassNK. 

Building on developments in the field, Sompo Japan and the class society have begun joint investigative research on the risk assessment of autonomous ships. The risk assessment is considered an important step to ensure the safety of autonomous ships. 

Utilizing ClassNK’s knowledge of ships, and Sompo Japan’s knowledge on risks associated with ship operation and management based on underwriting ship insurance, they will carry out an optimal risk assessment for autonomous ships by researching and sharing their knowledge. They will also incorporate knowledge on risk assessment for the practical application of autonomous vehicles developed by SOMPO Risk Management Inc., which is in charge of risk management operations in the SOMPO Group.

They began their research in February 2021 and aim to announce the results in 2022. Through the results of various partnerships, ClassNK seeks to reinforce its knowledge of risk assessment as a classification society and will strive to contribute to the implementation of autonomous ship technology.