Test area for autonomous ship installed

In Norway, the MUNIN project has sparked a fascination for and a great interest in autonomous and unmanned ships as the next major revolution in shipping. The interest came up in late 2014 and has only been increasing since then. The latest manifestation of this is the founding of the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS – http://nfas.autonomous-ship.org/, only Norwegian) and immediately before that, the establishment of the autonomous ship testing area in the Trondheim Fjord. The latter event was marked on September 30th, 2016 with a signing ceremony on board the R/V Gunnerus, NTNU’s (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) research ship. The Norwegian Maritime Administration and the Coastal Administration institutes signed the agreement together with representatives from local industry, universities and research.

The NFAS organisation was established on October 4th during a conference in Oslo. The Norwegian Minister of Transport opened the event and keynotes were delivered by the Director General at the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Ms. Kirsten Slotsvik, and Director General of Shipping and Navigation at The Norwegian Maritime Authority, Mr. Olav Akselsen. 39 companies and organisations signed up immediately as members of the forum. MARINTEK, technical coordinator of MUNIN, provides the secretariat for NFAS and was also one of the signatories to the test area agreement.

NFAS welcomes cooperation with similar initiatives in other countries. For more information, contact Mr. Ørnulf Jan Rødseth at MARINTEK.

The way to Autonomous Ships: MUNIN’s contribution the three day “Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium”

Last week the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium was held for the first time in Amsterdam. During this three day event, a variety of speakers from industry and academia presented their activities and achievements towards the realization of autonomous vessels in the near future. Openers of the conference have been the two keynotes held by Oskar Levander about Rolls-Royce vision towards autonomous vessels as well as Hans-Christoph Burmeister from Fraunhofer CML, who introduced the audience to the results of the MUNIN project and its views on further promising application areas of maritime autonomous technology. This was then continued by a fruitful plenum discussion including active participation by the ship owner and operator industry.
As one of the originating projects in this area, MUNIN was contributing to the further course of the symposium with three presentations covering cost-benefit aspects, design and navigation challenges, maintenance issues as well as shore support principles.

Unmanned ships at TRA2016

One of the hot topics of this years’ Transport Research Arena 2016 in Warsaw has been automation in transport. According to European Commissioner Violeta Bulc, it is especially due to the expected safety benefits “why autonomous driving is so high on the agenda”. Even though mainly focusing on road and rail transportation, MUNIN got a chance to represent the maritime view on this topic. On Monday, Thomas Porathe from NTNU/Chalmers put the MUNIN results in context with other ongoing European research projects within his scientific presentation about “A navigating navigator onboard or a monitoring operator ashore?”.

On Tuesday, Hans-Christoph Burmeister from Fraunhofer CML discussed then with the Director of the European Commissions’ DG Research and Innovation Ms. Clara De la Torre as well as further experts from rail and road research about “Human Factors, Safety and Acceptability in Automation”, how autonomous systems in all transport modes can become the future and how the interaction between the user and autonomous systems must be taken into account in current research.

Hans-Christoph Burmeister introducing the Plenum into the MUNIN project © Uwe Clausen

Hans-Christoph Burmeister introducing the Plenum into the MUNIN project © Uwe Clausen

News from other research projects: Rolls-Royce reveals future shore control centre

Rolls-Royce presents a vision of a future land-based control centre in which a small crew of 7 to 14 people monitor and control a fleet of remote controlled and autonomous vessels across the world. The crew uses interactive smart screens, voice recognition systems, holograms and surveillance drones to monitor what is happening both on board and around the ship.

Project Result Summary – MUNIN final brochure released

After three years of concentrated research work in developing and investigating a viable concept for an unmanned and autonomous merchant vessel, the MUNIN project has come to an end. The consortium partners covered all aspects relevant to the issue, such as autonomous navigation, engine and propulsion automation, communications and shore connectivity, system redundancy and efficiency as well as questions related to regulations and liability. The main focus was to create and validate a concept which is technically safe and sound on the one hand but also is economically competitive and ecologically compatible on the other.

A concept has been drafted, system prototypes have been developed, a simulation test-bed has been established and a feasibility study was produced. And most importantly, further research needs have been identified.

MUNIN’s final brochure consolidates the project’s findings from all research areas and provides direct contact details for further in-depth inquires. The document can be downloaded in the dissemination section of the MUNIN webpage.

CBA, Risk and Legal Assessment – MUNIN D9.3 released

The report D9.3: Quantitative Assessment contains the results of the in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis of the concept of an autonomous vessel as developed in the MUNIN project. It covers three dimensions: safety and security impacts, economic impacts and applicable areas of law.

The results from the analysis show that for the foundering and collision scenarios the MUNIN ship has a lower risk than a conventional vessel. This report also includes a short assessment of propulsion and steering reliability which together with foundering and collision arguably are the most critical events that can be expected.

Regarding the costs, the MUNIN bulker is found to improve the expected present value by mUSD 7 over a 25-year period compared to a reference manned bulker in the base scenario. However, it must be noted that the analyses is still associated with a high level of uncertainty due to the early stage of the concept development.

You can download the MUNIN deliverable D9.3 here or find it in the section MUNIN Deliverables.

Survey Results – MUNIN D9.2 released

Autonomous and unmanned vessels are portrayed as a key element for a competitive and sustainable European shipping industry in the future. Further, many new projects on autonomous maritime transprort are initiated currently accompanied by a lively discussen in the industry. But what do maritime stakeholders acutally think about the innovation of autonomous unmanned ships?

The MUNIN project was first to contribute to the realization of the vision of autonomous and unmanned vessels by developing and verifying a concept for an autonomous ship. Since the project has caused siginificant attention from the maritime sector a structured questionnaire was used to collect a wider external stakeholder perspective on autonomous shipping.

The results are not only interesting in themselves. On account to the fact that the innovation of an autonomous ship is still in a very early stage it is crucial to integrate a wider external view in any further developments since technological development is increasingly influenced by societal acceptance.

Main inputs for the design of the questionnaire were results of the MUNIN project while aspects that are discussed vividly in ongoing public and scientific debates were taken into consideration as well. In total the answers of 63 participants were evaluated whereof more than 40% have gained experience on board of a ship. This short summary will highlight the most important results to get an overview of the stakeholder opinion on autonomous vessels. More detailed information about the methology and further results of the survey can be found in the MUNIN report Qualitative assessment, and also in the section MUNIN Deliverables.

Respondents assessment of deployment date of autonomous ships

Respondents assessment of deployment date of autonomous ships © Fraunhofer CML


Overall a vast majority (70%) of maritime stakeholders in the survey indicate to have a very positive or positive perception of the concept of autonomous ships.

Shanker et al (2013) states, that unmanned autonomous vehicles have been operated for a considerable amount of time in many fields of transport and completely autonomous cars are expected to become reality before the end of the decade. Therefore participants were asked to give an estimate when autonomous ships would first become a reality. More than three-quarter expect the first autonomous ship whithin the next ten years. When asked about a common deployment of autonomous ships in merchant shipping the time horizon is somewhat longer with an average indication being 20 years from now. The share of participants that do not expect autonomous ships to become a reality – as a niche application or a regular part of the industry – is quite low overall (see Figure).

Martime legislation is seen as a major barrier for the introduction of autonomous ships. However, the respondents are quite optimistic in this context. 67% believe that legislation will be adapted successfully in future to take into consideration the specific circumstances that autonomous ships bring along. Current legislation requires that a “proper look-out” shall be maintained on the bridge at all times “by sight and hearing”. This might be interpreted to imply that a human must fulfil this function per se which would represent a major hurdle for the introduction of a further automation on the bridge. However, participants of the survey do not see the human look out as an imperative, with almost three-quarters agreeing that sensors, if proven to work reliably, may take over the function.

Besides regulatory compliance economic viability is a main hurdle for the realization of any innovative technology. Participants believe that autonomous ships will have a positive impact on the cost of maritime transport and the profitability of shipping companies. Both is seen to improve with 60% of respondents expecting transport costs to decrease with an introduction of autonomous ships and 43% anticipating a higher profitability for shipping companies.

Regarding ship safety advanced navigational support systems in combination with a positive impact of shore based monitoring of the ship are the main drivers. The stakeholders involved here share this view. Better detection capabilities due to advanced sensor systems on board are seen as a significant benefit by 95% of respondents. Also human error, a main factor contributing many maritime accidents (see e.g Baker/McCafferty (2005) or Rothblum (2000)), will be diminished by using advanced sensor systems and automation technology on the bridge according to the results of the survey.

As the maritime industry realizes higher degrees of automation overall – independent of autonomous ships – cyber-attacks pose relatively new threats compared to other industries where digitalization is already more widely spread. Nonetheless cyber security represents a major challenge for autonomous vessels which is also reflected in the results of the external stakeholder consultation: 63% see cyber security as a more serious threat for autonomous ships than for comparable land based systems.

The assumption that autonomous ships would have a positive impact on the work-life balance and increase the attractiveness of jobs in the maritime industry was confirmed by the stakeholders involved in the questionnaire. A large majority of three-quarter agreed that being disconnected from their social environment for long periods of time is a disadvantage of the work of mariners. Almost as strong was the support for the statement that shifting maritime jobs to a shore control centre would influence the work-life balance positively. The attractiveness of the working on board a ship compared to a shore control centre was rated favourable only by 24% of all respondents. Interestingly enough though, respondents that did or do work on board of a ship were less inclined to agree that shifting jobs from ship to shore would increase the attractiveness than those without on board experience.

Environmental sustainability is of increasing importance for the shipping industry. The polled maritime stakeholders share the view, that the development of autonomous ships is an innovation which can contribute towards the industries commitment to reduce its environmental footprint in future. 41% associate a higher environmental sustainablility with autonomous ships in comparison to conventional ships, although almost none sees a significant increase.

Waterborne TP’s Implementation Plan identified the autonomous ship as a main opportunity for a competitive and sustainable maritime industry in Europe. Actually a very large majority of more than 70% share the perception of autonomous ships being an important opportunity. On the other hand participants see associated benefits to outweigh risks less clearly. Most frequently mentioned opportunities were new innovative ship designs and a possible transfer of developed innovative technologies to conventional ships. With regards to challenges the participants ranked a prevention of accidents due to technology failures highest followed by an adaptation of maritime legislation for unmanned ships.

Although many questions could be answered within the project MUNIN, the idea of unmanned ships is still at very early stage of development and there are many open questions. Continued research on autonomous ships is necessary to provide more detailed answers and it certainly will. The results of this stakeholder questionnaire, carried out as part of the MUNIN project, will help to align future technological development in the context of autonomous ships better to socially desirable solutions and thus increase the chance that the innovation of an autonomous ship finds its way to the marked.

Future concepts of unmanned vessels – MUNIN D10.1 and D10.2 released

The main objective of the MUNIN project was to develop a concept for upgrading a dry bulk carrier to unmanned deep-sea operations. While the technical concepts are basically focusing on this use case, some wider impacts of the general introduction of unmanned vessels into maritime transportation have been analyzed as well. Thus, the potential of autonomous vessel operations for short sea shipping has been assessed in MUNIN’s deliverable D10.1. Furthermore, possible design changes for an unmanned vessel newbuilding are depicted in MUNIN D10.2. Both reports are submitted and now available on this website or in the section MUNIN Deliverables.

MUNIN Final Event – Presentations online

Participants of MUNIN Final Event, Hamburg © Jens Meyer

Presentation at MUNIN Final Event, Hamburg © Fraunhofer CML

The public MUNIN Final Event took place in Hamburg from June 10th to 11th 2015. It was a great success with live test scenarios and fruitful discussions on short-term application potentials and long-term perspectives. Participants agreed that the question is not IF unmanned and autonomous shipping will be the future, but only WHEN…


MUNIN Survey

Dear Sir or Madam,

You are invited to participate in a survey which captures the views of maritime stakeholders on key aspects related to autonomous ships. After a brief introduction into autonomous vessels as seen in the MUNIN project, the questionnaire will start. All in all it should take about ten minutes of your time to complete. The aim of the survey is to collect the opinions of maritime experts in a structured way. This will make it possible to assess key impacts of autonomous ships and design future research and development accordingly. So let your voice be heard!

Please follow this link to get to the survey.

Your responses are voluntary and will be confidential. Answers will not be identified by individual. All responses will be compiled together and analyzed as a group. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact: munin.survey@cml.fraunhofer.de

Thank you very much for your kind participation!

MUNIN Workshop at NORSHIPPING – Presentations online

MUNIN Workshop at Nor-Shipping, Norway © Fraunhofer CML

MUNIN Workshop at Nor-Shipping, Norway © Fraunhofer CML

The public MUNIN Workshop at Nor-Shipping in Oslo from June 3rd 10:00 to 15:00 was a great success. More than 50 participants were interested to discuss questions on unmanned ships. This was in line with unmanned shipping being one of the hot topics at Nor-Shipping this year.


Update: MUNIN Final Event, Hamburg

The MUNIN Final Event in Hamburg from June 10th to 11th 2015 is coming soon!

Find new information including an updated agenda and information regarding the venue here.

Please note that meeting point for the Final Event is at

Hamburg University of Technology
Room I 0.054
Denickestraße 22 I
21073 Hamburg


The 14th International Conference on Computer Applications and Information Technology in the Maritime Industries (COMPIT) was held in Ulrichshusen/Germany. On Wednesday, 13th May 2014, the MUNIN project was presented by Ørnulf Rødseth, Marintek, and Laura, Walther, Fraunhofer CML.

The papers are available online in COMPIT’s proceedings.

Find more information about the conference here: http://www.compit.info/

Update: MUNIN Workshop in Oslo and Final Event in Hamburg coming soon!

The MUNIN Workshop at NORSHIPPING on June 3rd 2015 and the MUNIN Final Event in Hamburg from June 10th to 11th 2015 are coming soon! Non-commital registrations for both events are still very welcome:

We are looking forward to receiving your non-committal registration until May 27th 2014 at: munin_norshipping@cml.fraunhofer.de

MUNIN Final Event, Hamburg
We are looking forward to receiving your non-committal registration until June 3rd 2014 at: munin_workshop@cml.fraunhofer.de

We hope to see you!

MUNIN article: International Journal of e-Navigation and Maritime Economy launched

Together with the Korea Advanced Institute for Maritime Safety and Technology of the Mokpo University, Elsevier has launched the new International Journal of e-Navigation and Maritime Economy (e-Navi). The journal is intended to be an outlet for theoretical and empirical research contributions for scholars and specialists in the fields of navigation technology and maritime economy and it is expected to be a pioneering journal for e-Navigation in the future. MUNIN had the honor of contributing the journals opening article “Autonomous Unmanned Merchant Vessel and its Contribution towards the e-Navigation Implementation: The MUNIN Perspective in the first edition of e-Navi, which was published at the turn of the year. In the article, two examples demonstrate how MUNIN’s results address identified e-Navigation’s gaps and user needs. MUNIN wishes e-Navi to get off to a good start and success for the future.

Link to the MUNIN article

Questions to e-Navi: Please contact the editorial office via e-navi@e-navigation.kr

MUNIN workshop at SMM

MUNIN workshop at SMM, Germany © Fraunhofer CML

The MUNIN project and its future challenges were successfully presented at the SMM in Hamburg by hosting a workshop on the project’s “Short-term Application“. It took place on the 10th of September, 2014 from 09:00 until 13:00. It was not only provided an insight into the MUNIN project but also into Rolls-Royce approach towards unmanned vessels.


MUNIN’s 1st Simulation Test Round

1st Simulation Test Round, Warnemünde © Fraunhofer CML

From September 1st to 3rd, the MUNIN project consortium gathered at the Maritime Simulation Centre Warnemünde (MSCW) for a very first holistic system prototype test (see photo). Connecting three Shiphandling Simulators from the partners Hochschule Wismar and Fraunhofer CML in Hamburg, eight test scenarios were conducted to evaluate the current state of the prototype systems. This shall be used at a later stage to validate MUNIN’s concept for an unmanned and autonomous dry bulk carrier. Even though it became obvious that a lot of work still lies ahead, valuable conclusions could be drawn for the further system development. A 2nd Simulation Test Round at MSCW is scheduled for the third week of February 2015.

Update: MUNIN workshop at SMM

The international trade fair on Shipbuilding, Machinery & Marine Technology (SMM) in Hamburg / Germany is approaching fast, and so does the MUNIN workshop on the project’s “Short-term Application“. It will take place on the 10th of September, 2014 from 09:00 until 13:00 hours in meeting room A2.1 at the SMM. Please note the following organizational advice:

All participants shall meet at the information desk on the right hand side of Central Entrance at 08:45 hrs.

For further information about the workshop please refer to the following entry.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you!


DGON ISIS 2014, Hamburg © Fraunhofer CML

On September 4th 2014, the MUNIN project was successfully presented at the DGON ISIS 2014 in Hamburg. Wilko Bruhn, Fraunhofer CML, gave a presentation about Conducting look-out on an unmanned vessel: Introduction to the advanced sensor module for MUNIN’s autonomous dry bulk carrier (see photo).

For further details please visit the conference homepage.

MUNIN in Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News featured an articled titled Rolls-Royce Drone Ships Challenge $375 Billion Industry: Freight on February 25, 2014. Rolls Royce believes that the safer, cheaper and less polluting drone ships might be deployed in regions such as the Baltic Sea within a decade. The technology is available now, which is endorsed by the prototype preparation in the MUNIN project finishing next year. The prototype allows to conduct simulated sea trials to assess the costs and benefits. However, according to Rolls Royce challenges due to regulatory hurdles, union opposition and conservative ship owners will slow global adoption.

You can find the full article here.

MUNIN in Die Welt

The German newspaper Die Welt featured an article about autonomous ships on  December 28, 2013. Although fully automated ships are not a new idea, only now the technology is developed further to realize them. Rolls Royce strongly believes in their future, and thus, drives the realization. As a research project, co-funded by the European Commission, MUNIN aims to develop and verify a concept for an autonomous ship.

You can read the full article here. (only in German)

MUNIN on E-Navigation Underway 2014 – Conference Proceedings

The e-navigation community met at the e-Navigation underway conference on the ferry M/S Pearl Seaways, Copenhagen – Oslo – Copenhagen, from January 28 to 30, 2014. Relating to the focus Waypoints beyond the Strategy Implementation Plan the MUNIN project itself and opportunities provided by it to promote the implementation of prioritised e-navigation solutions were addressed. Hans-Christoph Burmeister, Fraunhofer CML, and Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, MARINTEK, gave the presentation Beyond the e-Navigation implementation plan: Development towards the unmanned merchant vessel?

The video of the MUNIN presentation as well as the conference proceedings are available online now!


MUNIN booth open on E-Navigation Underway

e-Navigation underway 2014, M/S Pearl Seaways © Fraunhofer CML

The e-Navigation underway conference on the ferry M/S Pearl Seaways, Copenhagen – Oslo – Copenhagen, has started and the MUNIN booth is open. Fraunhofer CML, MARINTEK and Chalmers Technical University are present to answer questions.


MUNIN presented by MARINTEK at IEEE OCEANS 2013 in Bergen, Norway © Fraunhofer CML

Entitled “Communication Architecture for an Unmanned Merchant Ship” the MUNIN project was presented by Hans-Christoph Burmeister, Fraunhofer CML, at the IEEE OCEANS 2013 conference in Bergen, Norway, 10 – 13 June 2013. The paper was written by Ørnulf Jan Rødseth and Beate Kvamstad, MARINTEK Dept. Maritime Transport Systems, Dr. Thomas Porathe, Chalmers Technical University, as well as Hans-Christoph Burmeister, Fraunhofer CML. In addition, MARINTEK gave information about the MUNIN project at their stand in the Exhibition Hall (see photo).



COMPIT 2013 in Cortona, Italy © Thomas Porathe

The MUNIN project was presented for 77 participants from 19 countries at the 12th International Conference on Computer and IT Applications in the Maritime Industries, COMPIT 2013 in Cortona, Italy, 15-17 April 2013. The conference took place in the 16 century renaissance palace of Il Palazzone (see photo), and the paper was written by Thomas Porathe, Christoph Burmeister and Ornulf Rodseth and is available online in COMPIT’s proceedings.


MUNIN on E-Navigation Underway 2013 Conference

For the third consecutive year the international e-Navigation community will meet on board a ferry between Copenhagen and Oslo. E-Navigation Underway 2013 takes place from January 29 to 31, 2013. The MUNIN project will be represented with an information poster on this year’s event.

If you are interested to get in touch with us on this occasion send an email to info@unmanned-ship.org or just visit us at our poster. We are looking forward to many interesting discussions!

You can find more information about the conference if you follow this link.

MUNIN on ISIS 2012 Conference

In the session on Visions and Strategies in the next Years Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, MARINTEK, and Hans-Christoph Burmeister, Fraunhofer CML, will present the paper Developments Towards the Unmanned Ship. The paper provides an overview of the initial position and rationale regarding the development of an unmanned ship.

9th International Symposium ISIS 2012 „INFORMATION ON SHIPS”
Session 5, 12/08/31 – 13:00