The United States Maritime Administration recently published the results of a study, undertaken by the Norden Division of the United Aircraft Corporation, on automation and the operation of merchant ships. Mr. Clayton, the author of this important report, described the findings of this investigation, in so far as they affect navigation, to an Institute Meeting held in London on 16 November 1962. The paper, which is presented here, was written in association with Mr. Kurz of the U.S. Maritime Administration. It describes navigation systems for partially and fully automated vessels, and discusses the basic system requirements, accuracy and reliability criteria. A command philosophy for automated ships is developed, and finally a marine course computer, which is the first component of a partially automated navigating system already manufactured, is described. This is the first of several equipments being manufactured under contract to the Maritime Administration.
In early 1959 United Aircraft Corporation, led by its Norden Division as systems manager, undertook a company-sponsored study of the technical feasibility of operating merchant ships automatically. The results of this study were circulated throughout the industry. In April 1960 the Maritime Administration awarded a contract to Norden to study the economic and technical feasibility of automating merchant ships. The principal objective of the study was to develop a consistent series of planned, orderly, and reasonable steps towards completely automatic ship operation. The technical feasibility and economic advantage for each significant advance would be thoroughly established and then presented in a form suitable for selective application according to the particular requirements of individual ship operators.