IMO to Discuss Autonomous Ships

 11 May 2018 10.32am

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) will meet for its 99th session, which will have autonomous vessels as its main focus.

The MSC will meet on Tuesday May 16th, 2018 at the IMO’s headquarters in London and will begin to explore how “the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments”.

The discussions at the conference are expected to revolve around the framework for the regulatory exercise and forming a plan of work.

Read the port of Rotterdam's technical paper on the port's landmark partnership with technology giant IBM

The committee is also expected to discuss a range of existing IMO instruments, including amendments to the SOLAS regulations concerning the computerized stability support in case of flooding on passenger vessels and amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code.

Discussions will also focus on how the recently adopted polar Code can be applied to non-SOLAS vessels in the future, including cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage, and an update on the reported incidents of piracy against ships.

The IMO received 203 incident reports of piracy and armed robbery worldwide in 2017, and the 2018 figures are currently trending higher than the previous year.

The session, which will run between May 16-25, follows the IMO's 72nd Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), where a major international agreement to cut emissions caused by the maritime industry by half was enacted. 

Recently two Norweigan firms, Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, joined forces to create a new autonomous vessel company called Massterly, which will use land-based control centres to monitor and operate autonomous ships in Norway and internationally.

Read more: AI Partnership to Control World’s Busiest Shipping Lanes

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