Communication architecture for an unmanned merchant ship
Unmanned ships is an interesting proposal to implement slow steaming and saving fuel while avoiding that the crew has to stay on board for very long deep-sea passages. To maintain efficiency and safety, autonomy has to be implemented to enable the ship to operate without requiring the SCC to continuously control the ship. Communication between ship and a shore control center (SCC) is therefore critical for the unmanned ship and proper safety and security precautions are required, including sufficient redundancy and backup solutions. Communication systems should be able to supply at least 4 Megabits/second for full remote control from SCC, but reduced operation can be maintained at down to 125 kilobits/second. In autonomous mode, the required communication bandwidth will be very low. For an autonomous ship the higher bandwidth requirements are from ship to shore which is the opposite of the situation for normal ships. Cost and availability of communication is an issue. The use of technical and functional indexes will enable the SCC to monitor the status of the ship at minimum load on operators and on the communication systems. The security and integrity of information transfers is crucial and appropriate means must be taken to ensure failure tolerance and fail to safe properties of the system.