WP05 Safe and Secure Communication


SINTEF Digital

Safe Communication for Autonomous Ships

  • For autonomous ships to be acceptable for commercial use, they must be at least as safe as conventional vehicles in similar service.
  • It is expected that future regulations will require control and navigation systems for autonomous ships to be certified according to functional safety requirements.
  • A communication solution supporting an autonomous operation will thus be considered as an integral part of the safety system, and require safety certification.


  • Safety can be defined as the freedom from unacceptable risk of harm to humans, either directly or indirectly as a result of damage to property or to the environment.
  • Safety can be achieved through various mechanisms: physical barriers, work processes, training, testing, monitoring and control, emergency response.
  • Functional safety are barriers in the shape of electrical and programmable control systems which must operate correctly in order to ensure safe operation.

 Functional Safety: Life cycle management

  • Functional safety requirements governs the entire life cycle of a safety system, from concept and specification, through design and development, to maintenance and decommissioning. ​
  • ​Developing a safety system is much more complex, time consuming and costly than a similar non-safety system.​

Safe Communication

  • Certification according to functional safety standards is too costly and time consuming for providers of wireless communication solutions.​​
  • To provide safe communication despite using an "unsafe" communication protocol, an application level end-to-end safety architecture is proposed.
Illustration of Safe Communication Architecture