Unmanned autonomous cargo ships may change the maritime industry, but there are issues regarding reliability and maintenance of machinery equipment that are yet to be solved. This article examines the applicability of the Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) method for assessing maintenance needs and reliability issues on unmanned cargo ships. The analysis shows that the RCM method is generally applicable to the examination of reliability and maintenance issues on unmanned ships, but there are also important limitations. The RCM method lacks a systematic process for evaluating the effects of preventive versus corrective maintenance measures. The method also lacks a procedure to ensure that the effect of the length of the unmanned voyage in the development of potential failures in machinery systems is included. Amendments to the RCM method are proposed to address these limitations, and the amended method is used to analyse a machinery system for two operational situations: one where the vessel is conventionally manned and one where it is unmanned. There are minor differences in the probability of failures between manned and unmanned operation, but the major challenge relating to risk and reliability of unmanned cargo ships is the severely restricted possibilities for performing corrective maintenance actions at sea.
Autonomous ships have been a hot topic in maritime transport research in the past years. However, there are still many unanswered questions regarding what defines an autonomous ship and the potential and limitations of implementing and operating these. In this video, Stig Eriksen from SDU/SIMAC explore these topics.
The video is developed in collaboration with MARLOG.
Given the move toward automation, an increased focus on the liability for technical defects must be anticipated. This brings into play liability regimes that have traditionally been less used in the maritime area. One of these liability regimes is product liability. It is the purpose of this contribution to examine the implications of product liability rules in the maritime area, seen in light of the automation of ships.