Capt. Lehtovaara, Chairman of One Sea, states that although the industry has the technologies, the important step is to set the regulatory framework, both at an international level through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and, for local applications, from flag states.

Our ambition is that One Sea will represent automation technology providers as new regulations are drawn up. This is now urgent.

ABB's ‘Electric. Digital. Connected.’ strategy focuses on shipping's digital future, with Capt. Lehtovaara stating that the operation of tugs and service vessels could be supported remotely in a harbor, rather like air traffic control. And fully autonomous vessels could provide transport for short-haul cargo movements or ferry crossings between two fixed points.

Yet, Cpt. Eero states that none of these, however, implies that vessels will not be manned.

Actually, I think the questions we should be asking are: ‘Will we have enough crews to man all ships in the future and how can we ease their workload, improve safety and raise efficiency?’ The answer is … through autonomy in one form or another.

Discussing about the challenges faced by the officer of the watch, the Captain refers toABB’s ‘Bridge Zero’ concept which could provide watchkeepers with further support. This initiative is based on a combination of digital technology interacting with human cognition and would enable an ocean-going cargo ship to run safely and efficiently without a deck officer on the bridge.