The Development of the Legal Framework for Autonomous Shipping: Lessons Learned from a Regulation for a Driverless Car

  •  Roman Dremliuga    
  •  Mohd Hazmi bin Mohd Rusli    


This article focuses on the regulation of maritime autonomous surface vessels from the perspective of international law of the sea. The article discusses on the possibility of developing a legal framework to regulate autonomous maritime navigation based on laws and regulation of autonomous driving of landed vehicles. The authors opine that existing legal framework does not conform to the goal of regulation of autonomous navigation. However, the regulation of autonomous car testing and exploitation could be imitated to design a new legal framework for autonomous shipping. Despite the divergent approaches, some principles remain in common particularly of cybersecurity and privacy. As computer systems are replacing the need of a master and crew for digitally managed ships, low level of cybersecurity implies an increase in risk of losing control over the vessel. The authors are of the opinion that that current legal acts, standards and their drafts do not pay necessary attention to the problem of cybersecurity of autonomous ships. Moreover, current legislations do not provide mechanisms of influence on behavior of shipowner and shipbuilder to make them apply the best measures. The similar situation is with privacy. Factually, an autonomous ship is a natural tool for surveillance, as to effectively navigate through the seas, it must collect and process information pertaining to navigational safety and other related matters. The question raises how this information has to be collected, kept, processed and deleted. Thus, the maritime community may consider adopting the approach on privacy from regulation for autonomous cars.

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