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Assessing Autonomous Shipping

Unmanned Systems Magazine

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency that sets global rules for shipping, is undertaking a "scoping exercise" to explore whether any of its regulations should be changed to accommodate the expected advent of autonomous ships. 


The IMO expects to finish the exercise by 2020. The results are "likely to lead to some kind of work plan," Brown says. Developing and implementing such a plan would take years, according to Sean Pribyl, a maritime attorney at the Blank Rome LLP law firm in Washington, D.C. 


While the IMO tackles the regulatory issues and AUVSI ramps up its advocacy work, U.S. and foreign firms are working feverishly to make autonomous vessles a technological reality. 

"It's almost like a modern-day space race," especially in maritime-focused northern Europe, Pribyl says. 

"Assessing Autonomous Shipping," by Marc Selinger was published as the cover story in the October 2018 edition of Unmanned Systems Magazine, a publication of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.