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Autonomous Ships Market Size, Share, COVID-19 Impact & Russia-Ukraine War Analysis, By Autonomy (Partial Automation, Fully Autonomous and Remotely Operated), By Solution (Hardware and Software), By Ship Typ0065 (Commercial and Defense), By End User (Line Fit and Retrofit), and Regional Forecast, 2023-2030

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI101797



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The global autonomous ships market size was valued at USD 5.21 billion in 2022. The market is projected to grow from USD 5.61 billion in 2023 to USD 9.87 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.4% during the forecast period.


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Autonomous ships are remotely piloted or highly automated ships. These vessels are equipped with the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology, data analysis technology, and land-based monitoring centers connected to broadband networks. Advanced hardware and software automatically handle all tasks related to ship operations. Automated systems provide critical information such as equipment status monitoring, environmental monitoring, engine control, cargo control/loading, vessel control, docking, and undocking.

Technological advances in sensors, electromechanical drives, cameras, and satellite technology move automatic ships across oceans without human intervention. Committee Maritime International (CMI) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are investigating how autonomous ships would fit into the recent agenda of international maritime law.


COVID-19 Pandemic Adversely Affected the Growth of the Autonomous Ships Market

The maritime sector faced unprecedented challenges globally amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Production shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, and crew and staff quarantine periods hindered the growth of the market.

Due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), local authorities banned several cargo and passenger ships from entering the port. As a result, some merchant seamen remained on board, while the ship owners incurred additional costs due to their extended stay in territorial waters. Declines in fishing tourism, cruise tourism, and leisure activities during the pandemic also impacted the boating market. Moreover, the pandemic affected ships, forcing many sailors to retire and renew their employment contracts. In addition, importing and exporting products and goods were prohibited to prevent the spread of new coronavirus infections.

  • According to the 2020 report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), global maritime trade decreased by 4.1% in 2020.

  • UNCTAD's Maritime Transport 2020 report says the COVID-19 pandemic has caused shock waves that have led to the collapse of cargo volumes, shipping networks, and ports and weakened growth prospects.

  • In addition, issues such as port closures, declining cargo demand, and increasing disputes between owners and charterers are hindering the growth of this market.


Russia-Ukraine War Positively Impacted the Market Growth due to the Rising Demand for the Product

Autonomous ships are appealing to naval forces as they offer several advantages over conventional manned vessels, and many countries have developed or experimented with autonomous ships in recent years. The U.S. has invested heavily and developed a strategic plan to acquire medium, large, and extra-large "unmanned vehicles" for surface and undersea operations. Other navies don't want to be left behind and are aggressively developing unmanned autonomy capabilities. These include China, the U.K., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and others.

For Instance, in September 2022, Ukraine successfully used self-propelled "drone" boats in a full-scale attack on the Russian navy in Sevastopol, Crimea. It was a pivotal moment that changed the future of naval warfare. While autonomous ships have been deployed before, this is the first time multiple armed autonomous ships have been simultaneously deployed in combination with drones to conduct offensive naval operations against military targets successfully.

Several Russian ships were damaged in the attack, and the USV reportedly penetrated the harbor defenses and damaged vessels at protected anchorages. This development will lead to a rethinking of the role of unmanned ships in port defense to defend against aggressive naval operations and such attacks.


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Technological Inventions in Maritime Navigation Software to Drive Market Development 

Major market players have developed solutions to improve maritime security in recent years. Adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and advanced navigation systems is anticipated drive market growth. For instance, in April 2020, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) installed the "Hyundai Intelligent Navigation Assistance System" (HiNAS) on a 250,000 dwt tanker. The system automatically detects nearby ships, records the speed and position of nearby ships using artificial intelligence, and displays the information on an augmented reality (AR) screen. HHI mentioned that HiNAS technology is helpful for the autonomous operation of larger vessels.


Rising Investments in Advanced Ship Technology Developments to Boost Market Growth

Increasing investments in cutting-edge technology by various countries is accelerating market growth. Autonomy helps reduce collisions at sea, work long hours without distractions, increase fuel efficiency, and perform mission-critical tasks.

For Instance, in October 2019, South Korea invested USD 130 million in the autonomous ship project. The project includes developing a system capable of intelligent navigation, collision, and accident prevention, an integrated platform for system management, decision-making, and situational awareness. Implementing technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data analytics will drive the global market size.

Development of Technological Advanced Next-Generation Autonomous Ships Increases the Market Growth

The adoption of advanced software and hardware solutions for the development of next-generation ships will accelerate market growth. For Instance, in September 2020, IBM and ProMare launched Mayflower Autonomous Ships (MAS).  MAS uses solar energy and IBM technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, cloud, and edge technologies. In addition, Yara International has developed the first fully electric cargo ship, which was expected to sail in Norway by 2021. Therefore, the increasing development of next-generation ships will accelerate market growth.


Threats Connected with Cyber Security Hinders the Autonomous Ships Market Growth

The shipping industry has faced constant changes due to the digitization and automation of ships. Autonomous ship infrastructure includes a combination of electromechanical systems and highly integrated software and hardware that form computer networks. Censorship and networking between modern ships and computers in ports, terminals, shipping companies, and shipyards hinder information security, which is more vulnerable to cyberattacks and piracy. Increasing digitization and modernization lead to cyberattacks which affect overall market growth.

For instance, regulations in Japan do not allow fully autonomous vessels to operate without people on board. This regulation by the Government of Japan is an important decision as potential cyber threats, and attacks have not been thoroughly evaluated and addressed, as limited information is known about the overall architecture of autonomous type of ships.


By Autonomy Analysis

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Rising Demand for Fully Autonomous Ships is expected to Witness the Highest Growth from 2023 to 2030

Based on autonomy, the market is classified into partial automation, remotely operated, and fully autonomous. In 2022, the remotely operated division won the largest share. A remotely-operated vessel is operated from a remote center, allowing the vessel to be steered from a vantage point or a safe location.

For instance, in September 2020, offshore service operator SeaOwl launched its new Remotely Powered Service at Sea (ROSS).

The fully autonomous segment will exhibit the highest growth during the forecast period. This growth can be attributed to benefits such as shorter delivery times, shorter port calls, lower operating costs, no accidents caused by human error, and lower freight rates. 

By Solution Analysis

Hardware Segment Holds Highest Share Owing to Growing Use of Automated Navigation Systems and Advanced Sensors

Based on the solution, the market is segmented into hardware and software. The hardware segment dominated the market in 2022 and will continue dominating during 2023-2030. The growth is attributed to the growing adoption of hardware components such as sensors, GPS trackers, automated navigation systems, propulsion & auxiliary systems, and others.

The software segment will grow the most due to advanced software solutions for autonomous operations during the forecast period. In January 2020, Robosys Automation Limited launched the newest version of Voyager 100. It is an AI software that allows bridge watchkeepers to control ships and improve safety.

By Ship Type Analysis

Commercial Segment Will Witness Highest Growth Due to Rising Demand for Next Generation Cargo Ships

By ship type, the market is classified into commercial and defense. The commercial segment held the highest share in 2022. The growth is attributed to increasing tourism and international seaborne trade. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, the total value of the annual global shipping industry trade reached USD 14 trillion in 2019. Thus, this drives the market growth.

The defense segment is projected to show significant growth due to rising demand from naval forces for border patrol, transportation of military forces, and others. For Instance, in January 2023, Austal Limited presented a solid financial future with an early-stage contract that could exceed USD 108 million, including work on an autonomous patrol vessel for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

By End User Analysis

Line fit Segment Dominates the Market Owing to Increased Spending on Naval Defense

By end-user, the market is segmented into line fit and retrofit. Among these, the line fit segment held the highest autonomous ships market share in 2022. The growth is due to increasing investments from naval defense forces and growing international maritime trade. The procurement of advanced ships due to growing tourism drives segmental growth.

For instance, in January 2023, The Indian Navy signed an agreement with Sagar Defense Engineering Pvt. to help acquire a fleet of armed autonomous boats under the "SPRINT" initiative, which aims to encourage the development and use of homegrown defense technology by domestic companies.

The retrofit segment will witness remarkable growth during the forecast period. Growing upgrades, modernization programs, and changing regulatory energy and emission standards drive market growth.


Asia Pacific Autonomous Ships Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)

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The market is studied across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.

Asia Pacific dominated the market share in 2022. The growth of the market is attributed to the rapid economic development of the region and growing maritime trade. According to UNCTAD's Maritime Transport Review 2022, the Asia-Pacific region remained the world's crucial maritime cargo handling center in 2021, accounting for 42% of exports and 64% of imports.

North America is observing significant growth due to increasing investment in developing advanced commercial and defense vessels. Growing shipping in the U.S. and presence of major companies such as IBM Corporation, GE, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell International Inc., and others drive market growth.

Europe is expected to grow significantly between 2023 and 2030. Behind the growth are increased investments in developing advanced ship projects from various European countries, driving the market growth. In January 2020, the European research program Horizon 2020 awarded USD 22 million to the Autonomous Marines project developed by the Norwegian maritime cluster. Major players such as ABB, Fugro, Kongsberg Maritime, Rolls-Royce Plc. and others contribute to regional market growth. 

The rest of the world shows moderate growth between 2023 and 2030. The growth is due to the increase in spending by the navies of the Middle Eastern countries. In 2019, Unique Group developed the UnI-Cat vessel in the United Arab Emirates for unmanned exploration in shallow waters. The company designs and integrates the ship's autonomous sensor and communication technology.


Key Players are Focusing on Developing Advanced Technologies for Next-Generation Autonomous Vessels

Players operating in this industry focus on business expansion by developing next-generation ships and systems. In October 2022, Kongsberg Maritime announced that a supply contract for the HUGIN Endurance Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) system had been awarded to an undisclosed partner. The HUGIN Endurance is a long-range AUV designed for land-to-shore operations. It is the major member of the HUGIN AUV family, with a diameter of 1.2 meters, a length of about 11 meters, and a weight of about 7,000 kilograms.


  • ABB (Switzerland)

  • ASELSAN A.Ş. (Turkey)

  • BAE Systems (U.K.)

  • Fugro (Netherlands)

  • GE (U.S.)

  • Honeywell International Inc. (U.S.)

  • Kongsberg Gruppen Maritime (Norway)

  • L3 ASV (U.S.)

  • Northrop Grumman (U.S.)

  • Rolls Royce plc (U.K.)

  • Siemens Energy (Germany)

  • Wärtsilä (Finland)

  • Marine Technologies LLC (U.S.)

  • Ulstein Group ASA (Norway)

  • Mitsui (Japan)

  • Sea Machines Robotics Inc. (U.S.)

  • Neptec Technologies Corp. (Canada)


  • May 2023 – L3Harris Technologies (NYSE: LHX) has partnered with BigBear.ai (NYSE: BBAI) to provide advanced autonomous surface vessels (ASVs) and artificial intelligence (AI) to current and future maritime defense programs. Under the agreement, L3Harris' ASView system will be integrated with BigBear.ai's predictive computer vision technology to identify better and classify vessels, improve situational awareness, and support manned and unmanned group missions.

  • March 2023 - Samsung Heavy Industries Co. (SHI) and Kongsberg Maritime (KM) have signed a joint development project agreement (JDA) to design a next-generation autonomous 174K LNG carrier that uses autonomous remote control and low-emission technology.

  • February 2023 – Lloyd's Register Unmanned Marine Systems has certified the BAE Systems Autonomous Pacific 24 (AP24) rigid inflatable boat (RIB). The AP24 RIB was developed for the Royal Navy by BAE Systems with funding from the NavyX Autonomy and Lethal Accelerator programme, which aims to deliver new technology quickly.

  • July 2022 - Fugro has signed a contract with Kooiman Engineering and Van Oossanen Naval Architects to develop Blue Prism, its next-generation unmanned surface vessel (USV), designed specifically for coastal and offshore environments. Blue Prism design combines a very low carbon footprint with extensive data collection capabilities

  • March 2022 - Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation is awarded a USD 17 Million firm-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for inventory repairs. This continuation contract covers maintenance, alterations, repairs, modifications, system upgrades, and spare parts for the AN/AQS-24 sonar detection suite (all versions), Common Post Mission analysis, and midrange test equipment that supports the Navy's current equipment.


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The report provides detailed market analysis and focuses on critical aspects such as significant fleet companies, vessel types, solutions, and major applications. In addition, the report delivers insights into market trends and highlights key industry developments. Apart from the abovementioned factors, the market report covers several direct and indirect issues that have influenced the market growth in recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period


Growth Rate

8.4% CAGR (2023-2030)


Value (USD Billion)


Autonomy, Solution, Ship Type, End User, and Geography

By Autonomy

  • Partial Automation

  • Fully Autonomous

  • Remotely Operated

By Solution

  • Hardware

  • Software

By Ship Type

  • Commercial

  • Defense

By End-User

  • Line Fit

  • Retrofit

By Geography


  • North America (By Autonomy, Solution, Ship Type, End-User, and Country)

    • U.S. (By End User)

    • Canada (By End User)

  • Europe (By Autonomy, Solution, Ship Type, End-User, and Country)

    • U.K. (By End User)

    • Germany (By End User)

    • France (By End User)

    • Russia (By End User)

    • Rest of Europe (By End User)

  • Asia Pacific (By Autonomy, Solution, Ship Type, End-User, and Country)

    • Japan (By End User)

    • China (By End User)

    • India (By End User)

    • Australia (By End User)

    • South Korea (By End User)

    • Rest of Asia Pacific (By End User)

  • Rest of the World (By Autonomy, Solution, Ship Type, End-User, and Sub-Region)

    • South America (By End User)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By  End User)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 5.21 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 9.87 billion by 2030.

The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% during the forecast period (2019-2030).

The hardware in the solutions segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

KONGSBERG is the leading player in the global market.

Asia Pacific held the highest market share in 2022.

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