SAFETY4SEA Conference & Awards
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SAFETY4SEA Conference & Awards
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E Navigation, ECDIS & Autonomous Ships

Image hereabove is used for illustration purposes only

Willy Zeiler, Marketing & Communications Manager, NAVTOR AS, addressed concerns regarding “e Navigation, ECDIS & Autonomous Ships“. Mr Zeiler highlighted that e-Navigation is central to delivering tomorrow’s technology, but its powerful benefits can be exploited today. Using data as a facilitator, it simplifies tasks, reduces workloads, enhances safety and environmental performance, and delivers real economic advantages for the industry. Autonomous vessels are a natural step forward for the discipline, with connected, digitized ships that perform with optimal efficiency, safety and security. Whether they switch to full autonomy or not, he suggested that e-Navigation will soon become central to the voyages of all seagoing vessels; that is a science fact, he finally stated.  

Shipping has changed a lot over the last decades and efficiency and profits are some of the main driving forces. Currently, we are talking about e-navigation which will replace the traditional navigation. According to IMO, e-navigation is defined as “the  harmonized  collection, integration,  exchange,  presentation  and analysis of marine information on board and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation  and  related  services  for  safety  and  security  at  sea  and protection  of  the  marine environment”

The e-Navigation Strategy Implementation Plan force us for

  • improved, harmonized and user-friendly bridge design;
  • means for standardized and automated reporting;
  • improved bridge equipment and navigation information;
  • integrated presentation of information in graphical displays

The transition from paper to digital raises the question of what charts and publications are available in digital format. E-navigation includes many challenges regarding the distribution & updating of charts and publications, the standardization & training, the integration and the cost.

e-Navigation is a Strategy developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to bring about increased safety of navigation in commercial shipping through better organization of data on ships and on shore, and better data exchange and communication between ships and the ship and shore.

The future of e-navigation is a reality today, the challenge is to utilize of the development, the technology and the know-how to meet companies’ business goals, being more effective and profitable. Standardization is very important; there is need for supplier that can meet all requirements.  The navigators need know how the ENCs are updated, where to find the update reports, and to easily provide documentation for the vetting and Port State Control.

In my opinion, ECDIS is the most important invention since the radar. Currently, there are 27 manufacturers of typed approved ECDIS. We predict approx. 20% of them to remain in the future, as many more challenges are about to come that will force manufacturers to integrate bridges in their systems and handle big data.

Autonomous ships are a logical consequence of digitization; the definition is not equal to unmanned ships. Autonomous ships do not mean any crew at all as there will be always need of crew in the ship operations. Here, the approach is different; crew will be not present onboard.

NAVTOR is to spend the next three years helping the EU chart a route towards autonomous vessels. The Norwegian firm has been selected to represent the maritime industry in the ENABLE project. NAVTOR has now received funding to investigate the concept of ‘shore-based bridges’, a crucial steppingstone on the path to autonomy.

First steps toward autonomous ships have already been taken. Rolls-Royce has developed what they call “autocrossing system.“ The system takes over the control for the fjord crossing from the captain and manages the vessels acceleration, deceleration, speed and route.

‘Hrönn’, will be designed and built in Norway in cooperation with Kongsberg. Sea trials will take place in Norway’s newly designated automated vessel test bed in the Trondheim fjord and will be conducted under the supports of DNV GL and the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

Now, regarding the fundamental inquiry whether autonomous shipping is fact or fiction, it is difficult to say; we cannot predict the future!

However, the future starts today and it is better to be an hour early than 5 minutes too late. Compared to paper charts and publications approximately 85% is available in digital format today. We still miss some areas of ENC coverage as well as some publications that are not available in digital format. But, digitalization will continue so in near future all needed chats and publications will be available in digital version.

Hence companies must select their own strategy with regards to e-Navigation implementation by selecting a provider which offers the most convenient way of installing, licensing and updating digital charts and publications.

Above text is an edited article of Willy Zeiler’s presentation during the 2017 SMART4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his video presentation by clicking here

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

About Willy Zeiler, Marketing & Communications Manager, NAVTOR AS

Willy Zeiler has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and market economy. He worked for several years in the advertising industry as an Art Director and later as Managing Director. For several years he has been involved in the maritime industry holding different positions in marine electronic companies. He was one of the cofounders of NAVTOR back in 2011 where he now holds the position as Marketing & Communications Manager. He is an avid sailor and possesses a navigator’s certificate.

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One comment

  1. So are we ultimately back to over-relying on GPS for ‘safe’ navigation with no crew on board? We tell students not to rely on GPS, when navigating with ECDIS – to fix the ship’s position at certain intervals. With no crew on board, will GPS be the ONLY means of position-fixing?

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