Proceedings of the

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

From Aviation to Maritime: An Approach to Define Target Safety Levels for the Safety Assurance of Autonomous Ship Systems

Meriam Chaal1,a, Victor Bolbot1,b, Axel Berres2 and Osiris.A Valdez Banda1,c

1Risks and Intelligence in Marine System, Marine and Arctic Technology Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aalto University, Finland.

2German Aerospace Center, Braunschweig, Germany,


The safety assurance of autonomous ship systems is anticipated to present various challenges in the near future, necessitating the establishment of unambiguous procedures and references to facilitate the risk-based design of future ship systems. The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) guidelines, as outlined in the current version of the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA), Goal-Based Standards, and the rules from classification societies lack in detail for the risk-based design of autonomous ship systems. In the meantime, the aviation industry's regulations include more structured techniques for aircraft systems engineering, including a risk matrix that is employed as a benchmark to set the system safety objectives throughout various stages of system design. Consequently, this research suggests a methodology to establish target safety levels for the safety assurance of future ship systems, guided by aviation standards, to support the development of risk-based procedures and regulations that ensure the design of safe autonomous ship systems.

Keywords: Risk matrix, System safety assurance, Risk-based design, Aviation safety, Marine risk assessment, Marine autonomous surface ships.

Download PDF