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Automation Will Create New Opportunities for Sustainability at Sea

Wednesday, 10 July 2024

If “Driverless” ships become a reality, what will be the environmental impact?

Without question, automation is already playing a growing role onboard vessels, signalling a potential revolution in maritime operations. While automation today is most often used to optimize select tasks, a future where Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) are sailing the seas is certainly within the realm of possibility. MASS are defined by the IMO as “commercial vessels that operate with little or no human intervention, using sensors, software, and communication systems to navigate, avoid collisions and perform the tasks and functions of the vessel.” The emergence of autonomous ships has been made possible by developing autonomous navigation systems, sophisticated sensors, and data management systems, largely based on increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence models. This reduces reliance on human ship crews, improves the effectiveness of operations, and minimizes risks associated with accidents.

If and when these technologically advanced vessels gain traction, they will unquestionably introduce new opportunities for the industry to enhance global sustainability and efficiency. This article looks into the impact of advanced automation technology in maritime on ocean sustainability.

Automation and Environmental Sustainability

  1. Energy Efficiency and Emission Management Automation helps optimize fuel consumption using intelligent navigation systems that leverage weather predictions and real-time data analysis. Research indicates that such systems can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 7.3%. This reduction not only cuts operational costs but also mitigates the environmental impact of maritime operations.

  2. Efficient Waste Management Automation is also crucial in onboard waste management, facilitating efficient sorting and recycling processes. This reduces the amount of plastic and chemical waste polluting our oceans, supporting global efforts to maintain marine environmental sustainability.

  3. Security and Operational Sustainability Using MASS with advanced sensor technology enhances operational security and minimizes accident risks that could threaten environmental sustainability. Automated navigation systems can avoid routes that endanger vulnerable environments such as coral reefs or protected marine habitats.

However, despite numerous advantages associated with its use, the introduction of uncrewed vessels poses significant regulatory challenges. There is a need for changes in international regulations, such as the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Convention, to include these newer technological aspects and legal obligations related to autonomy at sea. Ethical issues are also raised by automated technology, especially regarding liability for accidents or emergencies at sea. Guided by technological advancements, clear legalized principles must establish boundaries between ship owners, manufacturers of technologies, and operators alike. Global collaboration among governments, the maritime industry, and scientific communities is crucial to fully harnessing the sustainability potential of autonomous vessels. Initiatives such as developing new standards for safety and environmental performance and training onshore operators for autonomous systems need prioritization.

Automation in maritime technology improves operational efficiency and significantly contributes to environmental sustainability. The maritime industry can move towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future by leveraging technology to reduce emissions, manage waste efficiently, and enhance operational safety. Collaboration between governments, industry stakeholders, and scientific communities is critical to maximizing the positive impact of automation on global ocean sustainability.

Scorpa Pranedya Preparedness for Automation Era

Scorpa Pranedya Preparedness for Automation. As the maritime industry transitions towards greater automation, Scorpa Pranedya is proactively preparing for this new era by focusing on several key areas:

  1. Developing Standards for Safety Ensuring the safety of maritime operations is paramount. Scorpa Pranedya is committed to developing and adhering to rigorous safety standards, including continuous improvements based on updates from recognized frameworks such as the Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA), the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, and the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

  2. Improving Environmental Performance Scorpa Pranedya recognizes the importance of reducing the maritime industry's environmental impact. By leveraging technologies, the company aims to enhance its environmental performance through the following initiatives:

    1. Carbon Footprint Recording Implementing systems to record and monitor its operations' carbon footprint accurately. This data is crucial for identifying areas where emissions can be reduced and reporting sustainability goals.

    2. AI Technologies for Monitoring Installing advanced AI technologies to monitor vessel performance, including speed, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and waste management. These technologies enable real-time adjustments to optimize fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

    3. Sustainable Practices Promoting sustainable practices onboard vessels, such as the use of eco-friendly materials, efficient waste management systems, and adherence to international environmental regulations.

  3. Training Onshore Operators As technology becomes more prevalent, onshore operators must be well-equipped to manage and support these systems. Scorpa Pranedya invests in comprehensive training programs to ensure its employees are proficient in the latest technological developments. This includes:

    1. IT Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Developing detailed IT SOPs to guide operators in using information technology, ensuring consistency and reliability in operations.

    2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Establishing a clear AI policy that outlines the ethical use of AI technologies, data management practices, and the integration of AI into daily operations.

    3. Personal Data Protection (PDP) Policy Ensuring all employees adhere to strict data protection policies to safeguard sensitive information and comply with international data protection standards.

The automation of maritime operations presents significant opportunities for enhancing both efficiency and sustainability. Scorpa Pranedya's proactive approach to developing safety standards, improving environmental performance, and training onshore operators positions the company to be ready for this technological revolution. Scorpa Pranedya is committed to driving the maritime industry towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced future.


  1. Issa, Mohamad, Adrian Ilinca, Hussein Ibrahim, and Patrick Rizk. (2022). "Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships: Problems and Challenges Facing the Regulatory Process" Sustainability 14, no. 23: 15630.

  2. Sedna. (2023). Top 5 Opportunities for Automation in the Maritime Industry | Sedna.

  3. Toygar, Arda. (2024). “Sustainability in the Maritime Industry: Integration of Digital Twin and Autonomous Control”. 10.4018/979-8-3693-3575-8.ch002.


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