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The Centre for Assuring Autonomy launch event

Confidence in autonomous systems key to wide-scale adoption in the maritime industry

The Centre for Assuring Autonomy, a partnership between Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the University of York, recently hosted its launch event for the maritime sector in London and found that maritime organisations are highly engaged with safe autonomy and the benefits it can bring. However, confidence in these systems, evidenced by demonstrators and use cases, is crucial if the sector is to realise the multiple benefits maritime autonomy can offer.

Representatives from across the global maritime sector were present at the launch including regulators, insurance companies, maritime law, pilots, associations, and technology and innovation organisations. When surveyed about barriers to maritime autonomy attendees honed in on three key themes; safety assurance, business case, and regulation. When asked about what outreach was needed for the wider adoption of maritime autonomy, education and training came out on top. 

The new £10 million pound Centre, dedicated to safety assurance of AI and autonomous systems, will support the development of safety assurance and management methods through collaborative research. Based at the University of York, the Centre has the capability to test autonomous systems and work directly with industry partners to research pressing challenges around autonomy - such as those being faced by the maritime sector.

Professor John McDermid, Director of the Centre, said:

“What’s interesting about the feedback we gained from attendees of our launch, is that demonstrating safety assurance is closely linked to the business case for autonomy. We understand that in order to fully realise the opportunities of autonomy maritime organisations from across the world require confidence, use cases, and methods by which they can safety assure a whole range of different maritime systems and operations. Our launch event demonstrated very clearly why the Centre for Assuring Autonomy is needed and the multiple ways in which we are able to provide support.”


Dr Jan Przydatek, Director of Technologies at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said:

“The marine industry will increasingly turn to artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to increase the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of maritime operations. The introduction of these exciting technologies has potential to bring significant benefits, but also create new risks that must be understood and managed. The Centre for Assuring Autonomy is ensuring that key industry stakeholders are equipped with the knowledge, frameworks and expertise needed to transition to these new technologies safely and equitably.”

Professor McDermid added: “It’s clear there is a pressing need to provide both industry and regulators with education, tools and guidance around safety assurance. There are concerns regarding human-autonomy teaming, risk identification of AI and autonomy. We, at the Centre for Assuring Autonomy, are ideally placed to help maritime organisations and regulators with these challenges and I would urge them to contact us to find out how we can help.”


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