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Advancing the Marine Transportation System through Automation and Autonomous Technologies: Trends, Applications and Challenges

Sixth Biennial Marine Transportation System Innovative Science and Technology Conference


The National Academy of Sciences

2101 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC

June 15-18, 2020

This sixth biennial conference in partnership with the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) will showcase current and emerging innovative science and technologies related to maritime transportation. Join your colleagues from government, industry, and academia to examine the rapidly evolving applications of autonomous and automated technologies. Through engaged discussion and debate with noted thought leaders, directed panelists, and leading scientists and engineers, we will explore the direction, technical challenges, enabling technologies, and potential hurdles to successfully navigate the future of the marine transportation system.


Attention University Students:

This conference will provide up to $500 for domestic travel support and one complimentary registration for up to four full-time students. To qualify, participant MUST be 35 years or younger at the time of the conference and must be full-time student at an accredited post-secondary institution. Chosen participants will present their work as part of a Student Honor Panel during a special plenary session of the conference. Decisions will be determined by the conference planning committee based on abstracts from eligible students. Restrictions may apply. Contact Keyara Dorn (KDorn@nas.edu) for more information.

To Submit an Abstract:

You may submit an abstract at the following link (you will need to create an account once at the site):

Call for Presentations:

You are invited to share your knowledge and expertise and part of a focused technical breakout session during the conference. The conference planning committee is seeking presentations within the context of automation and autonomous technologies relating to the following marine transportation topics:

Ports, Harbors and Freight Movement

Example areas include:

  • Unmanned shipping
  • Port 2050, what the future looks like
  • Changes to efficiency, throughput, and economics
  • Facilities, vehicles, and movement
  • Intermodal connections
  • Security and safety
  • Emerging transportation networks in freight systems and end-to-end service
  • Unmanned terminals and cargo handling

Inland Waterways

Example areas include:

  • Remotely operated navigation locks
  • River Information Services
  • Unmanned river vessels and barges
  • Inland waterway navigational chart requirements
  • Future of vessel traffic and waterways management, electronic aids to navigation, and the MTS


Example areas include:

  • Autonomous ferry’s and ships
  • Hydrographic surveying, environmental monitoring and forecasting, and mapping
  • Human assisted automation
  • Design of an unmanned cargo ship
  • Short sea shipping options
  • Technology to assist in situational awareness and decision making
  • Autonomous vessel equipment reliability and predicting lifecycle maintenance


Example areas include:

  • Measuring and monitoring structural health
  • Vessel monitoring and environmental compliance
  • Design considerations for unmanned or remotely operated vessels
  • Construction and construction monitoring
  • Remotely or autonomously operated dredges

Information Access

Example areas include:

  • Data sharing, access, and authentication
  • Cyber security and authoritative data
  • eNavigation
  • Digital navigational charts of the future
  • Situational awareness - 24/7 and 360 degrees
  • Automated Identification Services (AIS) of the future
  • Communication between networked automated vessels
  • Assured reliability and security of positioning, navigation, and timing services

Enabling Innovative Science and Technology

Example areas include:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Remotely piloted vessels, vehicles, and ports
  • Sensors and sensing

Format of Abstracts:

Abstracts must be in English and include name, affiliation, and contact information (email) for the corresponding presenter. Information about all co-authors must also be provided. To be considered for presentation abstracts should be limited to 300 words and must and identify which of the call topic areas the presentation will address.

Deadlines and Dates:

Submission of proposed presentations (abstracts): 
March 1, 2020 Extended to March 13, 2020 by 5:00PM EST

Notice of acceptance of presentations:
April 1, 2020

Commitment by author to present:
April 15, 2020