Survey on autonomous surface vessels: Part 1 - A new detailed definition of autonomy levels

Matteo Schiaretti, Linying Chen*, Rudy R. Negenborn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) have been involved in numerous projects since the 1990s. Many ASV projects have been successfully realized, and as many are still under development. Together with the development of those new autonomous vessels, the research on classification about ASVs has become important. The classifications provide clarity to researchers, designers, shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, ship owners and operators, enabling accurate specification of the desired level of autonomy in design and operations. Moreover, the involved research paves the way to a clearer understanding of the opportunity and challenges of research on autonomous vehicles. In this paper, we introduce the emerging concept of autonomous vessels. A multi-layer multi-agent control architecture of cooperative transport systems from the perspective of ASVs is proposed. Moreover, we provide an overview of existing research on the classification of autonomy. Based on the analysis, a detailed definition and categorization of autonomy levels for ASVs is proposed starting from the characteristics of ASVs and existing classification of autonomy. The proposed autonomy levels categorization assesses the overall autonomy level of a vessel by analyzing the automated sub-systems: Decision, Actions, Exceptions, and Cooperation. This categorization can be used to analyze existing ASV prototypes to gain insight into the status and trend of ASV research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Logistics
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings 8th International Conference on Computational Logistics, ICCL 2017
EditorsTolga Bektaş, Stefano Coniglio, Antonio Martinez-Sykora, Stefan Voß
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-68495-6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventICCL 2017: 8th International Conference on Computational Logistics - Southampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Oct 201720 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceICCL 2017: 8th International Conference on Computational Logistics
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • ASV
  • Autonomous surface vessels
  • Autonomy level
  • Cooperative transport systems


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