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The contribution of Vessel Traffic Services to safe coexistence between automated and conventional vessels

Tore Relling, Margareta Lützhöft, Runar Ostnes and Hans Petter Hildre

Maritime Policy & Management, 2022, vol. 49, issue 7, 990-1009

Abstract: The maritime industry could face major changes the coming decade. Technology development opens for new ways of operating vessels and autonomy is argued to revolutionise design and operations. However, despite a large focus on autonomy for several years, no autonomous concepts have become operational. In our paper, we suggest an initial step towards autonomy using unmanned automated vessels. To explore this, we utilize the coherence between the systems thinking and participatory design thinking process. We frame the project to focus on the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) traffic regulation and organisation measures in a 2025 scenario. The study shows that the standardisation of traffic would be beneficial for the present MTS with only conventional vessels, it will be a prerequisite for a future MTS with automated vessels. Further, we identify that the VTS need to change their role from solving situations ad-hoc to assume a tactical responsibility in traffic planning and to resolve situations at an earlier stage. A prototype of the future MTS shows that the identified challenges are considered possible to solve within a short time frame and is summed up in one statement from a plenary discussion: ‘this is not difficult, we could do it tomorrow’.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1080/03088839.2021.1937739

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