DMA: Maritime Regulation for Autonomous Ships Needs to Be International

Illustration; Image Courtesy: Wärtsilä

Maritime regulation for autonomous ships should be decided at the international level, a new report published by The Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) recommends. 

Such regulation should be made more flexible if it is to support the development of autonomous ships, the report says.

Identifying where changes in maritime regulation are needed, the report will be used as a platform for the future effort of DMA to develop regulation and make it digitalization-ready.

”The development of autonomous ships is fast-moving and we must be at its forefront. However, part of the 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,” Brian Mikkelsen, Denmark’s Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, commented.

As explained, the overall approach to regulation of autonomous vessels is that they must be at least as safe as conventional ships. The report provides a recommendation that regulation in this area should be agreed upon internationally and more specifically in the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Denmark is already working hard at getting this topic at the top of the agenda at international level.

”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,” Mikkelsen pointed out.

“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,” he added.

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