(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The effect of autonomous ships on the work at sea, the role of seafarers and the shipping industry.
Main points discussed in the report:
- This paper focuses on potential social and practical consequences of autonomous shipping and digitalization on seafarers.
- This paper does not invent or create new definitions but rather draws upon existing work. The last 48 months have seen an increasing number of articles and presentations on “autonomous shipping”, digital disruption and digital transformation in shipping. They have worked with fluid definitions and overlapping notions.
- Current research distinguishes clearly between digitization and digitalization. The former describes merely the transformation from analogue means to digital. Scanning a piece of paper or a photograph is a process in digitization. Bringing a chart from the original paper to an ECDIS system belongs to the same sphere.
- Currently all means of transport undergo an accelerated development toward automation and automated movements. It has been established for railways and the aerospace sectors. With great public attention within the automotive industry while the maritime industry receives less attention. Vertically, automation has been established at various points in the logistics chain, particularly in warehousing.
- The essential question for seafarers, shipowners and crew managers is if the need for qualified seafarers will decline. It is important to understand which qualifications will be needed. The job market looks bright, but training is crucial.
- There is little disagreement that digitalization will unlock opportunities or bring even disruptive change to the maritime industry based on technical developments around ships as assets and through the enhanced inter-connectivity of “things”.
- An area which is currently getting limited attention due to the newness of automation in shipping is the effect it may have on seafarer welfare, both physical and mental.
- A large body of research is occupied with the future of work in the digital context. The inherent debate focuses on the amount of work that remains for humans, its difficulty and its distribution.
- Digital change for seafarers will not be a zero/one alternative. Current trends and developments indicate towards a gradual shift. Additional automation will not be disruptive but a further development on a continuum as experienced for decades.
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