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Maritime technology project seeks stakeholder participation / autonomous vessels put on agenda

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GMN maritime technology project seeks stakeholder participation

21/06/2017  – The GMN maritime technology project, run by IMO and funded by the European Union, has issued a call for expressions of interest from individuals within specified organizations to become members of the GMN Project’s Global Stakeholder Committee (GSC).

The GMN project has established a network of five regional Maritime Technologies Cooperation Centres (MTCCs). Together, they are promoting technologies and operations to improve energy efficiency in the maritime sector and help navigate shipping into a low-carbon future.

The Global Stakeholder Committee will meet to share ideas and provide long-term strategic guidance. Participation in the stakeholder committee is on a voluntary basis and no fees are paid. Further information and an online form is available on the GMN website: http://gmn.imo.org/stakeholder-participation/.



The MSC agreed to include the issue of marine autonomous surface ships on its agenda. This will be in the form of a scoping exercise to determine how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments.

The MSC recognized that IMO should take a proactive and leading role, given the rapid technological developments relating to the introduction of commercially operated ships in autonomous/unmanned mode.  The scoping exercise is seen as a starting point and is expected to touch on an extensive range of issues, including the human element, safety, security, interactions with ports, pilotage, responses to incidents and protection of the marine environment.

The scoping exercise could include identifying: IMO regulations which, as currently drafted, preclude autonomous/unmanned operations; IMO regulations that would have no application to autonomous/unmanned operations (as they relate purely to a human presence on board); and IMO regulations which do not preclude unmanned operations but may need to be amended in order to ensure that the construction and operation of MASS are carried out safely, securely, and in an environmentally sound manner.

The scoping exercise should address different levels of automation, including semi autonomous and unmanned ships and could include discussion of a definition of what is meant by an “autonomous ship”. Delegations suggested the exercise should include scoping of the full range of human element factors within different levels of autonomy for both shipboard and shore-based personnel; scoping of the reliability, robustness, resiliency and redundancy of the underlying technical, communications, software and engineering systems; and consideration of conducting a Formal Safety Assessment or gap analysis as to the safety, technical, human element and operational aspects of autonomous remotely controlled or unmanned ships.

The MSC also agreed that proper consideration should be given to legal aspects, including where the responsibility would lie in case of an accident involving a MASS, its consequences to the cargo, and also the implications to the shoreside.

It is anticipated that the work would take place over four MSC sessions, through to mid-2020. Submissions were invited to the next session (MSC 99, May 2018).

Other outcomes

– The outcome of other items on the MSC 98 agenda will be added soon –

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