Autonomous Vessels: How an Emerging Disruptive Technology Is Poised to Impact the Maritime Industry Much Sooner Than Anticipated

January-February 2018

RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law

In the inaugural edition of RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law, of which Blank Rome Partner Elaine D. Solomon serves on the Board of Editors, Firm attorneys Sean Pribyl and Alan Weigel provide a brief history of autonomous vessel operations and discuss advanced automation in shipping and the perceived benefits and risks of this emerging technology.


The maritime industry is currently experiencing a sea change in technological disruption through the increased development of advanced automation on unmanned surface vessels (“USVs”). Automated vessel technology is rapidly transiting from the theo­retical to the practical as the number and scope of unmanned ves­sel or autonomous ship projects increase around the globe. Once thought to be decades away from implementation into domestic maritime transportation systems, advanced automation aboard USVs is emerging now as a potentially viable alternative for some industry stakeholders to reduce operational costs, improve safety, and increase productivity and efficiency.

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“Autonomous Vessels: How an Emerging Disruptive Technology Is Poised to Impact the Maritime Industry Much Sooner Than Anticipated,” by Sean T. Pribyl and Alan M. Weigel was published in the January-February 2018 edition of RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law (Vol. 1, No. 1), a Fastcase, Inc. publication. Reprinted with permission.