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International Cooperation towards Autonomous Ships


The development and approval of autonomous ship systems, or Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) as the current IMO term is, are very complex issues as proved by the relatively slow developments from the concept of autonomous ships was first launched on a wider scale around 2012 to the status today where many experiments are conducted, but where no general agreements on design principles or approval requirements have been reached. There are some national and class society guidelines available, but these vary in approach and may not be suitable for direct use by manufactures. There are also international initiatives ongoing, most notably in IMO and ISO, but also in more limited regional or business area forums. One problem is the definition or implied understanding of what an autonomous ship is. For the purpose of the discussion in this paper, such a definition will be provided. Based on this definition, the paper will give an overview of the expected benefits of autonomous ships, the need for competition between companies and countries, but also the need for cooperation in certain important pre-competitive areas. Finally, the paper gives an overview of some highlights of the international status as known to the author and an outlook on expected developments in the different initiatives.




  • EU – Horizon Europe (EC/HEU) / 815012
  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 322370
  • EC/H2020 / 859992




  • SINTEF Ocean / Energi og transport

Presented at

G-NAOE 2022




06.11.2022 - 09.11.2022


The Society of Naval Architects Korea



View this publication at Cristin