Human Contribution to Safety of Smart Ships

Many studies show that humans contribute to accidents, but research rarely addresses all the accidents that are avoided thanks to human capabilities. Today there is an increasing interest in autonomous vessels and automation within shipping, often with arguments for safety and efficiency. But research from other domains suggests that automation can have unintended side-effects. Instead of increasing safety, automation may undermine people's ability to understand the situation and make decisions, introducing new risks to the process. To conclude that the frequency of accidents will be reduced proportionally to the people removed from the system neglects the dynamics of the socio-technical system and the positive human impact on maritime safety. Although shipping around Åland is not free of accidents and incidents, the system has a very good safety performance. Three main players (Eckerö Lines, Viking Line and Tallink Silja) run traffic in difficult waters, with ice and darkness in the winter months and crowded waters with many leisure boats in the sum-mer. The main purpose of the analysis is to analyze human impact on safe operation and performance exemplified by the vessels in Åland's ferry lines. The work is done through in-depth risk identification, comparing identified risks and strengths to different future automation scenarios, with action proposals linked to identified risks. The study was financed by the Swedish Transport Administration and performed by SvenskSjöfart and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.