B0 – a conditionally and periodically unmanned bridge
The recent development in sensor technology, data analytics and computing power enables to increase the level of automation in ship navigation, steering and control. As a basic definition an autonomous vessel is not necessary unmanned but an unmanned vessel is, by default, autonomous to a high degree.
It is also important to make a distinct and clear difference between the technical readiness and capability of the vessel versus the status of usage of the vessel at any given time. In certain conditions, the crew onboard may be given the opportunity to change vessel operation from crew to machine operated.
This paper presents a concept of B0 – conditionally and periodically unmanned bridge – which enables more efficient utilization of vessel crew, reduction in fatigue and increases safety by enabling an unmanned bridge provided that certain conditions are met. It also reviews the main tasks of the crew at the bridge and elaborates the benefits of B0 concept.
A review of the regulatory background that will either require amendment or a demonstrated equivalent or better status with the appropriate use of technology to enable B0 operations. The technology requirements and implications are discussed in the last section of the paper.