The report is a follow-up to Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, looking at how technology trends will impact upon the regulatory and social aspects of maritime operations.

Networks of autonomous surface and underwater vessels are set to radically change the nature of maritime operations, and developments such as automation in shipping are happening with greater pace than expected as little as 2 years ago, according to Tim Kent, Technical Director, Marine and Offshore, Lloyd’s Register.

“These developments enabled by technology provide new opportunities and potential for disruptive business models. However, the principal challenges will be the integration of these autonomous systems into current maritime operations, legal and regulatory requirements, and not least the impact upon seafarers.”

According to professor Ajit Shenoi, Director of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, the report recognises that autonomous systems and relevant technologies will require people to learn to work seamlessly with them.

"Crew members of the future may become shore based, managing vessels remotely from the office or the sea, creating the need for new training and skillsets. The potential for the command and control to be geographically displaced from the vessel will also require behavioural and cultural changes within the maritime community,” he explained.

As Bill Biggs, Senior Campaign Leader for Autonomy, QinetiQ, added, the applied artificial intelligence, low cost low size sensors, increased connectivity, improved cyber security and better energy management, brought by the rising technological advance, are all likely to drive rapid and disruptive change.

The report can be downloaded here.