The General Directorate of the Merchant Marine (DGMM), of MITMA, organized at the headquarters of the Center for Studies and Experimentation of Public Works (CEDEX) in Madrid the I Technical Conference on Autonomous Ships, with the main objective to disseminate the activities that the different members at the national level in Spain are carrying out in this sector.
In 2017, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) began an scoping exercise of all the regulations that could be affected by this new way of maritime navigation, which concluded in May 2021 and addresses the complex task of finding a way to modify them to guarantee that autonomous ships can coexist with those manned in a safe and sustainable way.
Since the creation of the National Working Group on Autonomous Ships in 2020, several companies, associations, institutions and organizations have exchanged opinions and information through regular work sessions, with the aim to set up a national network on this matter. Thus, the conference was aimed at any person or institution interested in learning about ongoing projects and their development, the possible applications of autonomous ships, their interaction with traditional uses of the sea and their national and international regulatory development.
The conference had six thematic sessions, allowing to address topics as diverse and relevant as the current perspective of the regulatory development of autonomous ships, the modernization of maritime legislation, the contribution of the International Maritime Committee, the procedure of flagging and certification of unmanned vessels in Spain, the IALA guidelines in the development and implications of autonomous surface ships (MASS), new generation advanced VTMIS systems, challenges and opportunities for pilots in autonomous ships, 5.0 collision avoidance algorithms in autonomous ships, civil and defense applications of unmanned ships, classification societies and the autonomous ship, unmanned ships and cybersecurity, among others.
In particular, PLOCAN contributed to the third session with a presentation on developments and capabilities of USV technologies for efficient and sustainable ocean observation within the framework of the EuroSea project, as well as the experience derived from the ECUVE project as the first Spanish vessel flagged as autonomous.
Autonomous maritime navigation is one of the new paradigms facing the sector, with global repercussions for the rest of linked socio-economic sectors.