IMO puts autonomous ships on the agenda
Following an initiative by the Norwegian Maritime Authority, among others, the UN's maritime organisation IMO is now putting the issue of autonomous ships on the agenda.
This emerged after MSC 98 (the 98th session of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee) considered a proposal from Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, UK and the United States.
"This shows that Norway is at the forefront with regard to facilitating new technology. Although it is too early to say anything about IMO's conclusion, it is important that we are actively involved, which may also be significant for Norwegian innovation. The NMA's role in this context is primarily related to the legislation, and it is therefore positive that the IMO is now adding this to the agenda," says Director General of Shipping and Navigation, Olav Akselsen.
The proposal to put autonomous ships on the agenda faced no opposition, which came as a surprise to many.
"There was a surprisingly high level of support for starting the work on the regulation of autonomous ships, even from countries expected to be negative as they are major suppliers of seafarers," says Technical Director Lasse Karlsen in a statement from London. He has been a driving force behind having the issue placed on the agenda.
According to plan, this issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99), and then a plan will be drawn up for further consideration of the matter.
Norway has already started up the first trials of autonomous ships, for instance through the approval of a test area in the Trondheimsfjord and through the establishment of the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ship (NFAS). Senior Surveyor Svein David Medhaug heads the NMA's work on new autonomous technology.