Generelly, all current rules for ships are created on the basis that the vessel is manned at all times.
This results in challenges in relation to future autonomous ships that can be partial or completely unmanned.
IMO has started the extensive work looking at the current regulation – a so-called Regulatory Scoping Exercise, where the current rules are reviewed in order to evaluate to what extent those rules are able to contain levels of autonomy, and/or which rules need to be changed or developed.
The Danish Maritime Authority participates as Denmark’s representative in this work. The goal is to establish common ground rules for autonomous ships, internationally.
Report on electronic lookout
DTU and FORCE Technology have published a report regarding electronic lookout. The report compares the human lookout function from the bridge on a ship with technological lookout. The project is an important element for the establishment of knowledge regarding opportunities for technologies for autonomous ships, and an example of a research project that contributes to the intentions of the government’s growth plan for The Blue Denmark.
Several Danish ferries has been involved in the project, and the Danish Maritime Fond supports it.
Report on regulatory barriers for usage of autonomous ships
The report produced by Rambøll and CORE law firm for the Danish Maritime Authority contains a list of recommendations on how Denmark can soften and prepare regulation on autonomous technologies by looking at the regulation of the manning of the ships, the definition of the term shipmaster and permission to periodically unmanned bridge and electronic lookout.
Preliminary analysis on autonomous ships
In fall 2016, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the Danish Maritime Authority published a preliminary analysis on autonomous ships. The report describes the opportunities of autonomous ships as well as how to define different levels of autonomy.