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Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group

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10.05.2016

Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group

The use of Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) is developing at a fast pace and will continue to grow as technology and research opens up new opportunities.

The MAS Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) has been formed to identify the issues related to the operation of Maritime Autonomous Systems in all of the global designated maritime zones, from the high seas into internal waters.

MAS operations to date have highlighted important defence, scientific and economic benefits. The objective is to formulate a regulatory framework that could be adopted by the UK and other States, as well as the international bodies given the responsibility to regulate the marine and maritime world.

There is increasing interest being generated by the deployment of Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) around the world. Although many of these craft are relatively small at the moment there are plans for much larger unmanned vessels and technological developments are setting a very fast pace of change.

Unmanned vessels are already being operated safely and responsibly within the existing regulations, conventions and procedures. The MAS Code of Conduct sets down nine ‘Industry Principles’ which demonstrate a clear commitment to ensuring that MAS are operated safely and responsibly whilst ensuring compliance with all applicable regulations as far as practically possible. The MAS Code is available to companies in all nations with an interest in maritime matters.

MASRWG Background

The UK Marine Industries Alliance Steering Group has recognised the opportunity to capitalise on the potential growth of MAS. One of the key challenges to this growth is the development of  a regulatory framework to support the operation of Maritime Autonomous Systems in all of the global designated maritime zones.

In May 2014 the Marine Industries Leadership Council (MILC) endorsed the formation of a regulatory working group to focus on the regulation of USV and the MASRWG was established in August 2014. The inaugural MASRWG meeting was held on 16th September 2014. The MASRWG currently has over 30 members from a broad section of government, industry and academia.

MASRWG Governance

The MASRWG has been formed by the UK Marine Industries Alliance and reports to the MILC through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The working group’s main output will be in the form of a draft best practice regulatory framework which will be submitted to the MCA as part of the Open Policy Approach. Any proposed changes to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations will be through the MCA as the appointed UK Maritime Organisation.

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