Autonomous and remotely-operated ships


DNV has initiated or is taking part in various projects revolving around ship automation and autonomous control. The ReVolt project is one example; once all aspects of the autonomous control technology are mature, such a design could possibly be built and deployed as a 100 TEU feeder vessel on fixed routes in coastal waters. A DNV experimental model is used by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim to investigate how advanced control systems and navigation software could control an unmanned vessel. “Advances in sensor technology, data analytics and bandwidth to shore are fundamentally changing the way shipping works. And as operations are digitalized, they become more automated,” says Dr Pierre C. Sames, Director of Group Technology & Research at DNV.


Another project with DNV involvement, the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), led by Rolls-Royce, is investigating a wide array of aspects relevant to commercial unmanned shipping – from technical development to safety, legal and economic aspects as well as societal acceptance. “At DNV, we are doing a lot of work to understand the potential risks that come with autonomous ship systems in order to set new standards for them,” explains Sames. “We are already working on developing requirements to be able to test and classify unmanned vessels in the future,” he adds.

The Autosea project of NTNU, supported by DNV, Kongsberg and Maritime Robotics, seeks to understand the performance of novel sensor systems and the error potential of autonomous control technology, especially collision avoidance. The NTNU scientists are also working on an autonomous craft for Trondheim harbour. The idea is to provide an on-demand ferry service to passengers and bicycles across a channel at the push of a button. Featuring electric propulsion, an induction-charged battery, GPS navigation and an anti-collision system, the craft will carry up to twelve persons. It is intended to function as a cost-saving alternative to building a bridge. A pilot study is planned for this year, and the ferry is expected to start operating in 2018/2019.

Related downloads and links


WEBINAR: Autonomous and remotely operated ships - status and outlook

Watch the webinar recording from 2 April 2019 and download the slide deck


Remote-controlled and autonomous ships paper

Request a copy of our 36-page position paper


DNV class guidelines: Autonomous and remotely operated ships

Download the document (code: DNVGL-CG-0264)


Working on a newbuild project?

Contact us to discuss possibilities for autonomous and remotely operated ships