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Autonomous vessels may become major priority in Norway

Unmanned vessel
On 4 October, the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, will open the launching conference of Norsk Forum for Autonome skip (Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships, NFAS) in Oslo. Technology related to unmanned vessels may become a major priority for the Norwegian technology industry.

The forum is initiated by the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Federation of Norwegian Industries and MARINTEK, and will gather some of the most important industrial players and researchers in this area.

"The establishment of NFAS is a good and important initiative to support exchange of knowledge about technology which could provide new opportunities for the Norwegian maritime cluster and more and safer sea transport," says Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen.

The interest in autonomous ships is growing rapidly, and both industrial players and researchers claim it could be the next shipping revolution. Autonomous ships can provide brand new business opportunities for shipbuilders, equipment suppliers and shipowners. They are less expensive to operate, they require high technology skills and new and tighter cooperation structures between the players. This gives the Norwegian maritime cluster a unique opportunity to take a leading international position in development and commercialising of these ideas.

"To the Norwegian Maritime Authority, it is important to be a central player in the development of new technology. In this way we can avoid entering important processes to late – especially considering that new technology also makes new demands on regulations and the interpretation of these," says Olav Akselsen, Director General of Shipping and Navigation.

The development of new technology for automation of ship operations will also create opportunities to improve the safety and operation of existing ships. In the short run, this will be the main market.

"The Norwegian Coastal Administration welcomes this major effort. As Director General, I am eager to see innovation and technological development for the best of the users – domestically as well as internationally. The Coastal Administration has a leading position within intelligent transport systems in the shipping industry, and we aim to further develop this role," says Director General Kirsti L. Slotsvik.

NFAS is the first forum of its kind, and is expected to support technology and knowledge development related to autonomous vessels. The purpose of NFAS is to create a cooperative platform for Norwegian players, where they can exchange ideas, solve common problems and establish new relations. The forum also plans to enter a network of corresponding international fora to affect international regulations and policies.

More information about the conference and registration is available on the home pages of NFAS: