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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. 

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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. 

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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.