Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs calls for regulation to prepare the way for autonomous ships
08-12-2017 17:00

A new report on regulation of autonomous ships recommends that regulation be decided at the international level.

Photo of unmaned ship

​Maritime regulation should be made more flexible if it is to support the development of autonomous ships. A new report published by The Danish Maritime Authority today identifies where changes in maritime regulation are needed. The report will be used as a platform for the future effort of The Danish Maritime Authority to develop regulation and make it digitalisation-ready.

Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs Brian Mikkelsen is pleased:
”It is important that Denmark and Danish companies are at the forefront of technology and digitalisation. The development of autonomous ships is fast-moving and we must be at its forefront. However, part of current regulation is based on traditions dating back to the age of sail. That needs to improve. The regulation of autonomous ships shouldn’t be a hindrance to further advances and, therefore, the report published today provides important input.”

The overall approach to regulation of autonomous ships is that autonomous ships must be at least as safe as conventional ships. The report, prepared by the consulting company Rambøll and CORE Law Firm for The Danish Maritime Authority, provides a clear recommendation that regulation in this area be agreed upon internationally and more specifically in the IMO (the UN International Maritime Organization). Denmark is already working hard at getting this topic at the top of the agenda at international level.

Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs Brian Mikkelsen:
”We must be able to seize opportunities created by development of new technology. Denmark has a strong maritime tradition and we want to stay in the lead when it comes to development and testing of technology. In a globalized industry, regulation and standards for autonomous ships must be international. This is the only way to ensure significant global development in this area. I am very pleased that Denmark is already pushing this agenda internationally.”

Specific recommendation in report

The report provides a number of specific recommendations on how Denmark can facilitate and prepare the regulation of autonomous technologies by, inter alia, looking at the regulation on manning, the definition of the term master and permission for a periodically unmanned bridge and electronic lookout.