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Training and educational requirements of Australian future autonomous ship's operator

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 19:18 authored by Gholam Reza EmadGholam Reza Emad, Horne, R, Mehrangiz ShahbakhshMehrangiz Shahbakhsh

Background : The continual progression of Industry 4.0 adoption across industries has already begun impacting many facets of maritime space including naval construction, operation, personnel, and services (Sullivan et al., 2020). Digitalisation process as the central aspect of Industry 4.0 in marine industry has and will result in employing automation, robotics, and a series of disruptive changes that collectively enhance safety, security, efficiency, and human performance (Shahbakhsh, Emad, & Cahoon, 2021). Moreover, the digitalisation in shipping sectors requires a constant change that leads to modifications in ship’s type and sizes, crew competency, traffic management, and transportation routes (Baldauf et al., 2018). This fast-paced introduction of technologies in the marine realm leads the movement toward autonomous ships (Baldauf et al., 2018). The transition from primary human-operated to machine-operated systems has necessitated new ways of thinking (Devitt et al., 2021). Indeed, the tendency of this transition in shipping impacts the crew cognitive and physical performance level, the potential changes to their training, and the development of new capabilities. Subsequently, the level of human-machine interfaces at sea are changing, with new opportunities emerging alongside new technology (Devitt et al., 2021). More importantly, the human is a crucial element of the autonomous system and should be prepared for future challenges and the new roles that will bring (Shahbakhsh et al., 2021). While there is growing research interest in technological areas of autonomous systems, examining the role of the human element in this context is largely neglected and needs to be developed.

Aim: This paper aims to explore the multi-dimensional impact of autonomous systems and robotics technology on human performance in the future operating environment of naval domain.

Method: To address challenges and educational requirements in future autonomous naval systems, this study conducted an in-depth systematic literature review (SLR) to analyse the current research output in this field. The focus is on the human element in autonomous shipping, new roles, responsibilities, educational challenges, and reskilling process of future ships’ personnel.

Results: The result of the literature review highlighted the points that there is a myriad of research in the technology of the autonomous systems. These can be classified under eight major categories:

  • Autonomous ship navigation concept,
  • Deep learning for autonomous ship,
  • Cyber security,
  • ICT based ship architecture,
  • Manoeuvring test,
  • Decision-making system,
  • Collision avoidance,
  • Safety

However, there is a lack of research on the science of human element in the field of education and training for the future operators of the autonomous ships. In this respect, there is a critical need to fill this gap to assure operators’ readiness and enhanced capabilities.

Conclusions:The research concludes with suggestions for future research to fill these gaps. These future research agendas may include:

  • Determining skills, competencies, and characteristics of future seafarers,
  • Required future training curriculum and facilities,
  • Trainers and educators’ expertise and proficiencies


Publication title

Proceedings of the 2021 Defence Human Sciences Symposium




1 piece- abstract


Australian Maritime College


Australian Government, Department of Defence

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Event title

Defence Human Sciences Symposium

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Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Higher education; Autonomous water vehicles

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    University Of Tasmania


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