Digitalizing bridge and navigation technology irrefutably brings numerous benefits but also has implications for safety, operations and cyber security.
Speaking to World Maritime News at the Nor-Shipping 2019 conference in Oslo, Michiel Meijer, Head of Digital Transformation, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, outlined the benefits and challenges of introducing more applications to the integrated bridge system.
In addition to being valuable for navigation, vessel performance or remote monitoring, applications enabled by digitalization and enhanced connectivity introduce cyber challenges.
As noted by Meijer, Northop Grumman Sperry Marine has worked on building a highly secure gateway to open data from the navigation bridge towards the vessel network to achieve a secure data stream.
This undertaking was necessary as the navigator, still using a USB stick to get chart updates, represents a security threat to the system.
This is where the Sperry Sphere comes into play, Meijer explained. The digital ecosystem is envisioned being located at the back of the bridge and connecting its core bridge, compass and radar systems to the wider vessel network. This will enable direct updating of navigation and other data into the bridge system, sharing of navigation information to multiple locations around the ship and connection to shore.
According to the company, major elements of the Sperry Sphere are being installed on a series of very large containerships currently under construction in China.
In addition to cyber security challenges, Meijer also touched upon the interplay of officers and the ever-evolving technology, artificial intelligence, investment in startups, autonomous ships and the industry’s embrace of digitalization.