Objectives of the project Simulator-based risk identification of autonomous shipping traffic

The objective of the study is to derive applicable methods which support ship-owners in the decision-making process of introducing more autonomous systems on their ships and in their “Management of Change”.

 Ship owners are confronted with an increased level of automation and digitalization in their domain. New techniques are introduced constantly having a significant influence on crews work environment and shipping safety, which can hardly be covered by the current “management of change” practices. Typically, no risk assessments are performed for smaller steps in ship automation, which leaves uncertainty to the ship-owners and authorities when it comes to qualitatively or quantitatively describing the impact of automation on safety and though ensuring that safety levels are met.

The expected outcome is a systematic risk identification and assessment methodology for the introduction of autonomous vessels to the shipping domain. Based on derived scenarios of automation, recommendations for decision making with implications on redundancy of systems, safety critical systems, remote control aspects and equivalent safety level will be proposed. The following specific objectives will be covered:

  1. Develop a risk assessment method that encompasses the technical advances in digitalization and automation in shipping to derive equivalent safety levels when autonomous and conventional ships share the same traffic space.
  2. Perform desktop and full-mission simulations of typical traffic scenarios involving autonomous, semi-autonomous and manned ships in confined waters and port approaches (exemplified with routes Göteborg-Frederikshavn and Svanesundsleden) to identify possible further risks not identified in a HAZID. Autonomous ships’ algorithms will conceivably cover a number of parameters providing for “anti-collision” and “anti-grounding” in addition to follow the pre-planned route.
  3. Identify and quantify the requirements on safety critical systems and their algorithms on highly automated vessels regarding redundancy and safety levels.
  4. Develop and propose relevant testing methods, tools and requirements on redundant systems for autonomous vessels with implications for shore centers/ fleet management/ VTS (e.g. required response times, competences).
  5. Impact of environmental conditions for autonomous vessels on route planning, point of no return, safe haven and emergency response.
  6. Risk assessment covering topics such as implications of decision support, human performance in highly automated systems, human machine interface and organizational impact.
  7. Increase competences and competitiveness of Swedish organizations and companies when it comes to independently validating and verifying that smart and autonomous vessels are rule-compliant and safe.
  8. Facilitate the introduction of smart functionality for navigation on ships based on risk assessment methodologies.

Work Packages

The Project consist of the following work packages:

WP1: Risk Identification, HAZID workshop

WP2: Definition of scenarios, adaptation of a test bed and preparation of algorithms for simulation

WP3: Simulations of scenarios

WP4: Risk Analysis, methods of quantifying risks

WP5: Risk reducing measures

WP6: Recommendations for Decision-Making

WP Reporting, Project management, Organisational embedding and Dissemination

Co-financed by



Johannes Hüffmeier, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden