Advancing safety in autonomous shipping through modern hazard analysis methods - A System-Theoretic Approach

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The maritime industry is currently undergoing a substantial transformation towards autonomous shipping, where human involvement in operational activities is diminishing, emphasizing safety and efficiency improvements. This transition, however, introduces new safety challenges that necessitate rigorous risk assessment and innovative safety frameworks. This thesis commences with an exploration of the historical development of risk, safety, and reliability considerations in autonomous shipping through a bibliometric review. Additionally, the future research directions and the potential risk assessment methods adequate for the complex autonomous ships are analysed. System Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA) is a key focus of this study. The thesis provides and investigate a model of the STPA organizational control structure within the maritime operational paradigm, seeking to reveal safety challenges of the transition to autonomy. An essential aspect of the work presented in this thesis involves integrating STPA with established marine risk assessment procedures, utilizing Bayesian Networks to quantify risks. The proposed framework scrutinizes the selection of Risk Control Options (RCOs) within Marine Risk Assessment (MRA) process and examines the potential incorporation of STPA-BN within the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) process. Drawing upon conventional maritime practices, the thesis offers an approach to develop safety control structure of autonomous ship systems and provides an analysis of the control structure components of Autonomous Navigation Systems (ANS). Hence identifies unique safety challenges posed by these innovations. In summary, this doctoral thesis serves as a technical compass guiding the maritime industry towards enhanced safety in the age of autonomous shipping. By leveraging modern hazard analysis methods, particularly STPA, and integrating them into established risk assessment practices, this research seeks to catalyse a shift towards advanced system-theoretic risk assessment processes in the maritime industry, acknowledging the evolving regulatory landscape and the complexity of the challenges at hand.
Translated title of the contributionAdvancing safety in autonomous shipping through modern hazard analysis methods - A System-Theoretic Approach
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Valdez Banda, Osiris, Supervising Professor
  • BahooToroody, Ahmad, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1606-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1607-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • marine risk assessment
  • FSA
  • STPA
  • BN
  • autonomous ship


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