Innovative technologies needed for maritime safety

article picture: Innovative technologies needed for maritime safety

photo: PEXELS

Shipping can be dangerous business. International safety standards and regulations for seafarers are helpful, but new technologies are also needed to avoid disasters at sea. For one thing, the increasing use of autonomous vessels will require highly efficient technical safety systems and devices.

On the global level, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has developed numerous regulations that are followed by all shipping nations. Many of these regulations deal with maritime safety.

The Maritime Safety Committee is IMO’s senior technical body on safetyrelated matters. The Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) deals with a wide range of technical and operational matters related to systems and equipment on all types of ships. They include life-saving equipment, appliances and arrangements, and fire-safety systems.

The era of automation requires an even wider range of technologies for safety and security on the seas.


As the technology of autonomous ships advances, some of the ships may be crewless in the course of the next few years.

Many pilot projects for autonomous vessels have already been launched.

A number of safety systems form part of the ongoing development of autonomous ships, but such technology can also be useful in the existing shipping environment.

For instance, the Intelligent awareness (IA) systems are set to become the next generation of digital technologies to improve safety the maritime sector. They will utilise sensors, high-resolution displays, and intelligent software. In part, this technology is likely to support other maritime innovations, including the autonomous vessels of the future.

The IA system will make use of sensor technology and software to minimise the risks that navigators face in constantly changing weather conditions, darkness, or in congested waters. Through data collection and information display systems, the IA system is expected to raise the standard of navigational safety as well as operational efficiency.

By producing a 3D map of the vessel, with the aid of light detection and pulsed lasers to measure distance, an external overview of the vessel’s surroundings can be made. This will help to create an accurate bird’s eye view of the area surrounding the ship.

Furthermore, the IA system can supplement the navigational tools already available from the electronic chart display & information system (ECDIS) and radar.



The maritime electronics manufacturer Furuno Electric and Japanese carrier line Mitsui Osaka Lines have collaboratively developed Intelligent awareness (IA) information display systems using augmented reality (AR) technology which will support vessels at sea.

Such systems can assist in the development of autonomous ship operations. They are able to provide information on the presence of other ships in the vicinity around the vessel, as well as other landmarks and obstacles to be encountered during the journey.

Data collected from the automatic identification system (AIS) can be displayed on tablets and other devices. Some devices may be able to display images taken from the bridge of the surrounding landscape. Moreover, images will build on AR technology to provide visual views to crew to assist with the surveillance of the ships.

Furthermore, the navigation manufacturer Raytheon Anschütz and Vard Electric AS have developed the Integrated Navigation System (INS). It is a combination of navigational data and systems interconnected to enhance safe navigation of the vessel.

Managing routes and charts, the INS will also share data across the network as well as controlling central tasks and services, including data handling and distribution, system monitoring, alerts and settings. According to Raytheon, the system has been designed for smart navigation through safe and simple operation.


Training programs based on Virtual Reality (VR) are already on the market. Such programs can be utilised for developing new skills for the crews of hi-tech vessels.

Continuous training is essential for maritime safety. In addition to training, effective online training methods for the maritime industry can bring benefits of substantial value both for the company and the individual seafarers. Shipping is a demanding business area, with constantly changing training needs. Therefore, online training solutions make the training processes easier and faster.

Innovative distance e-learning solutions could allow seafarers to learn while they continue with their work, in order to continue to develop and improve the specific skills they will need.

To further enhance onboard crew safety, ship operators and owners are beginning to investigate developments in wearable technology. It can be used to monitor heart rates and other healthrelated data of crew members in real time, to ensure the continuous health of the crew on board.

Cyber security at sea is also becoming a crucial issue as automated ships and systems are utilised more and more frequently.

Identifying threats and vulnerabilities is important for preventing cyber-attacks. Risks should be assessed and protection methods developed to neutralise cyber security risks.

Text by Ari Monenen

Data for this article has been collected from: Government Europa; IMO; Raytheon Anschütz GmbH; and Safety4sea.

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