Safety qualification process for autonomous ship concept demonstration

Eetu Heikkilä

    Research output: ThesisMaster's thesis


    Increasing level of automation is a clear global trend in traffic, and as a part of thistransformation, also maritime transport is foreseen to face substantial changes.Together with the advances in autonomous technologies, the set of economic, social andenvironmental challenges in the maritime setting is expected eventually to lead to thedevelopment of increasingly autonomous ships.The emergence of these novel technologies brings along a new set of risks and potentialhazards, as well as needs for changes in controlling the risks to safe operation. To ensureeffective control of these risks, and to acquire permissions to test and finally to routinelyoperate autonomous vessels at sea, a robust safety qualification process is required. Thesafety qualification process defines what evidence about the system’s safety needs to beproduced, how this evidence should be collected, and establishes a comprehensible linkbetween the evidence and the system’s safety requirements.In this thesis, the concept of safety qualification is explored in the maritime setting,starting with a literature research on methods of managing risk and qualifying safety inthe maritime domain. Based on the literature research, a safety qualification process isproposed for a vessel used to demonstrate autonomous operation at sea. The proposedprocess uses a goal-based methodology, where the functionality of the system for safeperformance is represented as a set of goals to be fulfilled and strategies for achievingthese goals. The method establishes a link between the safety arguments and the safetyevidence to be produced. Goal Structuring Notation (GSN) argument modeling languageis used for visualizing the results as a structured safety case.Finally, the developed process is applied in a case study, in which an autonomousoperation concept for a prototype vessel is assessed using the early stages of thequalification process. As a result, a goal-based model of safe operation of the vessel isproduced. The goal-based model is suitable to be used as a basis for collecting the safetyevidence about the system, as well as for presenting it in a structured manner as thetechnology development advances.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationMaster Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Kuosmanen, Petri, Supervisor, External person
    • Kujala, Pentti, Advisor, External person
    • Tuominen, Risto, Advisor
    Award date21 Nov 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2016
    MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis


    • technology qualification
    • traffic automation
    • autonomous systems
    • autonomous marine traffic
    • autonomous navigation
    • unmanned ship


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