Houlder collaborates on autonomous vessel project with Maritime and Coastguard Agency

As the first large autonomous vessel review work commissioned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the project marks a watershed moment for smart shipping.

The review work has been a collaboration with Robosys, an advanced robotics technology company that specialises in the design and operation of autonomous systems for the maritime sector, and Holman Fenwick Willian International LLP (HFW), an international law firm with entrepreneurial solutions in shipping and across international commerce.

The consortium, led by leading ship engineering consultants Houlder, has been working with the MCA to identify regulatory gaps and barriers to the development of safe, secure, and environmentally-friendly autonomous and remotely-operated vessels operations over 24m in length, which are also known as maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). The team has been reviewing existing UK primary and secondary legislation and international instruments to identify regulatory and security issues, has organised a workshop to explore key question on MASS rendering assistance to persons in distress, and answered key questions working with the MCA. The aim of the project is to explore how operations of these vessels might be addressed in the UK’s primary and secondary legislation and the degree to which existing legislation might be affected to accommodate MASS operations.

HFW has brought the marine legal expertise and has lead the work on physical and cyber security legislation. Robosys brought its unique expertise in operation and development of maritime autonomy to lead the workshop. Meanwhile, at Houlder, we have a track-record of over 3,000 projects spanning newbuild design, retrofits, specialist vessels and conversions, and offshore wind operations, installation and mobilisation. We have been using our extensive experience in complex maritime naval architecture projects to identify regulatory issues, coordinate and deliver on the project aim.

Arun Pillai, principal engineer and project manager at Houlder, commented: “As the UK continues its commitment to being a world leader in shaping the future of shipping, autonomous vessels will play an important role. Fortunately, the UK has lots of innovative, creative companies working at the cutting-edge of the marine industry. This collaboration is an interesting opportunity to support the UK’s leading position in autonomy, to aid MCA’s international discussions, and work with other innovative organisations located in the UK.”

Independent, objective analysis from naval architects has an important role to play in the advent of smart shipping. Find out about another of Houlder’s autonomous vessel projects here: https://houlderltd.com/case-studies/autonomous-wind-farm-vessel-2

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