UAE discusses challenges, future insights for autonomous shipping in region

The Ministry intends to turn the UAE into a global hub for innovation in maritime operations: Hassan Mohammed Juma Al Mansoori



Speakers discussed the need to empower maritime operations and ensure efficient port management with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new technologies. — Supplied photo
Speakers discussed the need to empower maritime operations and ensure efficient port management with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new technologies. — Supplied photo

By Staff Report

Published: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 5:21 PM

The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI) organised a virtual forum titled ‘The Future of Autonomous Vessels in Maritime Shipping’ as part of its activities during the Innovation Month, held under the theme ‘UAE Innovates 2022’ Representatives from various sectors of the regional and global maritime industry such as A-Navigation, have tackled developing autonomous vessel technologies worldwide.

Speakers discussed the need to empower maritime operations and ensure efficient port management with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new technologies.

They also highlighted the advantages of autonomous vessels from the operations, environment and safety perspectives, the added value of such ships to the industry as well as the accompanying challenges, especially in light of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the shipping sector.

Participants also underlined the importance of strategic partnerships in developing autonomous vessel technologies and automating marine operations to benefit the shipping sector worldwide.

Hassan Mohammed Juma Al Mansoori, Under-Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs, MoEI said: “At the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, we promote the UAE leadership’s objective of adopting digital solutions and keeping pace with the latest global developments, especially in the maritime sector. These efforts have contributed to enhancing the UAE’s global competitiveness in the sector. The country ranks 3rd globally in transport services trade and the Bunker Supply Index. Our ports are among the top 10 internationally, in terms of container handling capacity. We were pleased with the participation seen in this forum that discussed the latest developments and key challenges in autonomous and remote-controlled ship technologies, and their role in ensuring uninterrupted supply of vital goods, especially during global crises. The Ministry seeks to cooperate with the relevant bodies and organisations to develop legislation and laws that regulate the design, construction and operation of such vessels, while also ensuring their suitability for the marine environment.”

The UAE has over 20 leading international seaports and some of the largest oil export ports in the world. It is the headquarters of Abu Dhabi Ports Group, the developer of Maqta Gateway, the UAE’s first digital port community powered by blockchain.

The country is also home to DP World, the leading enabler of smart trade, which has launched several innovative platforms and products that have reshaped the international supply chain. These include Dubai Trade, a one-stop shop for cross-border trade and SeaRates, which provides instant and live rates for container shipping.

The company recently launched cargoes.com, a platform that provides integrated solutions for financing and shipping goods around the world. Additionally, DP World has transported more than 10,000 containers through the BoxBay intelligent High Bay Storage (HBS) system and, in partnership with Hyperloop One, it is developing a high-speed ‘Cargospeed’ system to transport goods in pods that move inside vacuum tubes at a speed that is equal to planes but on land.

Hessa Al Malek, advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs said, “The UAE considers innovation as a top priority for all sectors including maritime. As a country with competitive capabilities and qualified competencies to keep pace with the technological developments in the sector and lead excellence, the UAE attaches special importance to innovation, while investing in the latest digital solutions and technologies. The forum on the future of autonomous shipping was particularly important as it provided a platform for industry stakeholders to discuss the latest developments in autonomous vessel technologies, their advantages and challenges. It also helped them build strategic partnerships with industry experts to make a significant shift in maritime operations and shipping the world over.”

Mohammed Khamis Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said: “The maritime sector in the UAE is a unique example worldwide as it combines three integral aspects – it is a flag state, a port state and a coastal state. As such the country is recognised as one of the most influential countries in the maritime sector. Despite its diverse maritime facilities and state-of-the-art infrastructure, there is a constant need to develop newer ideas and find quality solutions to ensure that the country retains its position as a leading maritime hub. Through its membership in the IMO, it contributes to developing strategies, policies and standards to regulate the maritime sector globally. In cooperation with the IMO Member States, the UAE has participated in developing the best approach for regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) under the Maritime Safety and Legal Committee.”

In a recent development concerning autonomous tugs, Abu Dhabi Ports is collaborating with Robert Allan Ltd., to develop the world’s first fully unmanned autonomous commercial marine tugs. These vessels, which will have greater capabilities to operate in adverse weather conditions, will join SAFEEN, Abu Dhabi Ports’ maritime service arm. This will help increase efficiency and enhance operational safety.

— business@khaleejtimes.com


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