Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Safety and Human Dependability in Seaborne Autonomous Vessels

Christoph Alexander Thiemea, Stig Ole Johnsenb and Thor Myklebustc

Software Engineering, Safety and Security, SINTEF Digital, Norway.


Highly automated and autonomous seaborne vessels (ASV) are developed to improve environmental impact and transport of goods and people. ASV are expected to be remotely supervised, to fulfil legal requirements and assure safe handling in cases of emergencies. The AutoSafe project is developing solutions for the safe operation of ASV. For emergencies, the human safety supervisors need to handle the vessel, supported by fallbacks, procedures, and technology. Passengers need to feel safe and know what to do in all situations, to avoid injuries or loss of life. International standards are a starting point to build safe, reliable and trust. The aim of this paper is to assess applicability and potential benefit of IEC62508:2010: Guidance on Human Aspects of Dependability to the AutoSafe cases, based on the identified project needs. IEC62508:2010 deals with the human aspect of dependability, where dependability is the combination of reliability, availability, maintainability, safety, etc. Methods and approaches exist to set requirements, assess, and evaluate human performance. However, they are most applicable to trained operators. Passengers' and especially emergency services' interaction with the ferry during emergency situations are only covered to a certain degree by the standard. These create human factor challenges, which should be referenced appropriately. IEC 62508:2010 should be updated with respect to highly automated and autonomous systems or refer to other relevant standards.

Keywords: Autonomy, Safety, Dependability, Human factors, Seaborne vessels.

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