Autonomous ships

High tech systems
Digital & Internet
Product innovation

The challenge

Autonomous ships

In the maritime industry a trend is emerging where the control of vessels is becoming increasingly autonomous. It is expected that the application of autonomous control systems on vessels will increase the safety, uptime, and efficiency of the operation. Furthermore it allows for certain tasks to be performed remotely from the shore, leading to a decrease in accommodation size. Currently many autonomous ship concepts are developed by numerous companies.

Royal IHC, a shipbuilder active in the dredging industry, aims to develop solutions for autonomous dredging. In the near future IHC is aiming to implement an autonomous control system on a conventional Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger, in this scenario the ship design remains unaltered and the crew remains on board. The autonomous control system and the people onboard will complement each other in the control of the vessel. The system will act on the command of the user and important actions taken by the system will need to be confirmed. The crew on board will – at all times – be able to take over full control. While steps for the near future are defined, the autonomous dredging concept further ahead can take many shapes. Will the ship design be changed? Will the crew be stationed on shore, and how will the crew supervise the ship? How is maintenance taken care of? In this challenge you will shape a concept for autonomous dredging vessels.

The why

Why is this challenge important?

Royal IHC wishes to explore the possibilities for autonomous dredging vessels.

The solution

What outcome are we looking for?

Creative solutions for the challenges that autonomous dredging will bring.


What do we expect from the participants?

Creative, out of the box thinking.


We are looking for:
Students in (industrial/mechanical) engineering, innovation, business, applied physiscs, sustainability, policy, management


  • Gain experience
  • Enhance your CV
  • Connect with like-minded people
  • Receive a certificate of participation


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About us

Royal IHC

As a leading supplier of maritime technology, Royal IHC provides you worldwide with a clear competitive edge in the dredging, offshore, mining and defence industry. Navigating new waters in an ever-changing world, our aim is always to find the most efficient and sustainable way forward.

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