Liner shipping network design with autonomous vessels : economic and operational analysis under static and dynamic scheduling
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- Master Thesis 
Autonomous shipping technology has seen rapid growth in the last few years. Introduction of autonomous vessels may bring a wide range of benefits to the maritime industry such as cost savings, higher fuel efficiency, emissions reduction, richer data stream. It may also bring changes to the network design. As unmanned ships may allow for more flexibility than conventional vessels, schedules in liner shipping may shift from fixed weekly or biweekly schedules to dynamic ones. This thesis investigates economic benefits of introducing autonomous vessels to the liner shipping network, analyzes how fleet configurations with vessels of different capacity affect the costs and studies effects of a dynamic schedule on both service level and costs. In order to solve the optimization problems, first, a static arc formulation model is presented, and second, a dynamic model with a flexible sailing schedule is introduced. Computational experiments are carried out in three demand scenarios on the benchmark Baltic data instances which are extended to autonomous vessels of three different sizes. The findings show that the introduction of autonomous ships might lead to cost savings due to the decrease in crew costs and bunker costs. The results also suggest that some fleet configurations might perform better due to the asymmetry of the trade. Finally, the implementation of a flexible sailing schedule for autonomous vessels might lead to a great increase in the service level of the network while the costs might not be the lowest. Keywords: autonomous ships, liner shipping network design, dynamic scheduling.