With its primary aim of developing an operating autonomous maritime ecosystem that is poised to be at the cutting edge of technology, the One Sea alliance finds itself at the forefront of regulatory debate.
Much of the development has been happening in Northern
Europe, where digitalization has become a focus across the maritime industries,
according to Paivi Haikkola, Project Lead, One Sea Ecosystem.
Alliance members Wärtsilä, ABB and Kongsberg all ran
separate autonomous ship trials off the Finnish and Norwegian coasts at the end
Furthermore, Haikkola continues, the advanced state of
autonomous ship technology in the Nordic countries is reflected in an enabling
mentality among regulators: several test areas have been opened there, one of
them being Jaakonmeri off western Finland, where One Sea is authorized to
oversee future trials. Legislation and decisions have also been prepared and
finalized to enable remote piloting and autonomous operations.
“Given that main obstacles for autonomous shipping include
global operational regulations and technical standards, it is perhaps ironic
that the local regulatory framework is thought to have been material in
persuading overseas organisations MTI, Inmarsat and RINA to join One Sea in
quick succession at the end of 2018,” Haikkola said.
According to the project lead, discussions with other
potential members whose maritime headquarters are far from the Nordic countries
are continuing, with a major announcement anticipated shortly.
One Sea notes it is determined to play a full part in
progressing the international regulatory work needed to enable autonomous ships
and ensure the safety of the maritime traffic as new technologies emerge.
Already, the alliance has been participating in IMO work and
in the creation of the international regulation for MASS (Maritime Autonomous
Surface Ships) through flag states and other stakeholders, providing
information on technological advances and supporting the UN agency’s scoping
Besides ships, One Sea’s maturity in relation to autonomous
technologies includes the entire maritime logistics system and the benefits
digitalization and increased automation can have for efficiency if new
technologies are applied throughout. Clearly, ports and services associated
with them are a critical part of the picture.
In fact, One Sea’s most recent research initiative is
specific to the ship to shore interface, where piloting skills, among other
things, are expected to be critical to the overall safety of autonomous,
remotely-controlled ships and advances in automated maritime traffic
“We believe that One Sea – as an industry alliance with
different stakeholders – can play a special role when it comes to the different
strands of research, funding, test coordination and results dissemination. Our
basis for saying so is that One Sea is committed to keeping the ethical issues
of the new technologies in mind and emphasizing the human factor in every
aspect of its work,” Haikkola elaborated.
“In addition, our view is that no single company or
organization has the breadth to capture all of the benefits on offer, which
will only be realized through strong cooperation. For this reason, One Sea
members have complete freedom to innovate and develop their own autonomous ship
solutions inside an alliance which is nonetheless committed to harmonizing
As a strategic collaboration aiming to create an environment
suitable for autonomous ships by 2025, One Sea gathers together marine experts
in digitalization. Alongside members ABB, Cargotec, Ericsson, Finnpilot
Pilotage, Kongsberg, Tieto, Wärtsilä, Inmarsat and NYK Group research
subsidiary MTI (Monohakobi Technology Institute), One Sea partners include The
Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Finnish Marine Industries,
Finnish Port Association, Finnish Shipowners’ Association and Shipbrokers