SMASH! grabs autonomous initiative with Roadmap Smart Shipping

03 November 2021
SMASH! grabs autonomous initiative with Roadmap Smart Shipping

The Netherlands Forum for Smart Shipping (SMASH!) launched Roadmap Smart Shipping at a special Europort Masterclass on digital shipping at the Ahoy Centre Rotterdam yesterday - a new web-based information tool pinpointing the promise, progress and problem areas for the autonomous ship.

SMASH!, a Maritime by Holland public-private initiative, envisages autonomous ships as a potential answer to issues that include a growing shortage of personnel as the maritime workforce ages, and the need to enhance safety in areas that conventional vessels find hard-to-reach. Around 40% of goods shipped inland in the Netherlands move by waterway, for example, but 25% of the current workforce is set to retire by 2030.

Investing in smart technology will also improves the competitive position of the Dutch maritime sector and can contribute to more sustainable and safer shipping by supporting human actions and eradicating errors.

However, developing a viable autonomous ship ecosystem is complex from both the technical and regulatory perspectives. The Dutch waterways and highways authorities (Rijkswaterstaat) currently only allows autonomous ship technology to be used where vessels can show that they still have a full complement of crew.  

With a breakdown of 'use cases’ (deep sea vessels, shortsea ships, inland cargo ships and ferries, and unmanned drones) and development areas (legislation, insurance, communications, skills, security, ports, navigation, remote control, etc), SMASH! offers a digestible guide to a very complex topic.  It also seeks feedback, as part of its mission to use Roadmap Smart Shipping to bring the right parties together, take away obstacles to progress, inform stakeholders and initiate projects to promote smart shipping.

Roadmap Smart Shipping from SMASH! is available at