The impact of autonomous ships in regional waterways

Wei Wang, Shuaian Wang, Lu Zhen, Gilbert Laporte

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Technological innovation has been reshaping all walks of life, and the marine shipping industry is no exception. Autonomous vessels have gained significant attention due to their numerous advantages. However, regulatory constraints and expensive manufacturing costs are impeding the application of autonomous vessels. To overcome these challenges, this research conducts experiments with autonomous ships on national waterways with less regulation and develops a model to investigate their impact on shipping company operations. The model simultaneously optimizes ship routing, fleet sizing, fleet deployment, and demand fulfillment, taking into account demand uncertainty. Two solution methods, i.e., sample average approximation and a two-phase Benders-based branch-and-cut algorithm, are proposed to solve the problem with acceleration strategies, including column generation and variable fixing. The performance of several solution techniques is tested through numerical experiments using real-world data. Besides, sensitivity analyses are conducted to further discuss the influence of key factors and derive constructive managerial insights for shipping companies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102851
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Autonomous ship
  • Benders decomposition
  • Branch-and-cut
  • Sample average approximation
  • Shipping company operations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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