Perspectives on Autonomy – Exploring Future Applications and Implications for Safety Critical Domains

  • Steven C. MallamEmail author
  • Salman Nazir
  • Amit Sharma
  • Sunniva Veie
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 821)


As the sophistication and feasibility of implementing highly automated and autonomous technologies increases, the way in which the human element interacts and contributes to achieve a system’s goals continues to transform. The role of the human, including their required training, competencies and work tasks within complex socio-technical systems is therefore constantly being redefined by technological advancement. This study explores the potential effects of autonomous technologies on future work organization and evolving roles of humans within maritime industries. Ten Subject-Matter Experts working within industry and academia were interviewed to elicit their perspectives on the current state and future implications of autonomous technologies in the maritime domain. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and assessed using Thematic Analysis. Four main themes emerged from the interviews: (i) Trust, (ii) Awareness & Understanding, (iii) Control, (iv) Training and Organization of Work. A fuzzier fifth theme also emerged from the data analysis: (v) Practical Implementation Considerations, which encompassed various sub-topics related to the realities of real-world implementation of autonomous ships and shipping, including regulatory, security and economic issues. The results provide valuable input and perspective of autonomous systems and the future organization of complex safety-critical systems, including the role of humans in ever evolving and increasingly technology-oriented operations.


Maritime Automation Digitalization Work organization Macroergonomics Transport Safety 



This research has been supported by the MARKOM2020 project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The authors would like to thank all the participants in the study for their time and for sharing their valuable insights.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Mallam
    • 1
    Email author
  • Salman Nazir
    • 1
  • Amit Sharma
    • 1
  • Sunniva Veie
    • 1
  1. 1.Training and Assessment Research Group, Department of Maritime OperationsUniversity of South-Eastern NorwayBorreNorway

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