Research on risk, safety, and reliability of autonomous ships: A bibliometric review

Meriam Chaal*, Xin Ren, Ahmad BahooToroody, Sunil Basnet, Victor Bolbot, Osiris A.Valdez Banda, Pieter Van Gelder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


The safety and reliability of autonomous ships are critical for the successful realization of an autonomous maritime ecosystem. Research and collaboration between governments, industry, and academia are vital in achieving this goal. This paper conducts a bibliometric review of the research on the risk, safety, and reliability of autonomous ships aiming to provide researchers and maritime stakeholders with a structured overview of the topics, development trends, and collaboration networks in this research field. 417 papers published between 2011 and 2022 were identified covering 940 authors, 31 countries, and 227 journals. Three main themes were determined in this research domain: “safety engineering and risk assessment for decision making”, “navigation safety and collision avoidance”, and “cybersecurity risk analysis”. Meanwhile, it was identified that research on cybersecurity in autonomous shipping is moving to overlap with safety, which requires future co-analysis methods. Additionally, the analysis of the most cited 30 papers suggests that further research is needed in the topics of unmanned machinery operation risks, online risk tools, system-theoretic safety analysis, human factor, and the determination of suitable risk acceptance criteria for safety assessment of autonomous ships. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that the development of unambiguous COLREGs regulation is crucial for the development of safe collision avoidance algorithms for MASS. It was identified that the publication by Fan et al., (2020) is a key publication in this research field, while the journals of Ocean Engineering, Reliability Engineering & System Safety, and Safety Science are the key journals publishing on autonomous ship safety and reliability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106256
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Cyber Security
  • Literature Review
  • MASS
  • Policymaking
  • Reliability
  • Safety


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