One of the areas for “Monitor and Inform” in the latest IUMI Political Forum list of issues was autonomous / unmanned transports.
IUMI said that unmanned transports were gaining acceptance from industry and public entities as research and innovation brought the possibility of driverless trucks and vessels closer to realization. However, the association noted that this raised some legal and liability issues that needed to be resolved.
Insurers also needed to address the risks related to new technologies and the internet of things. New types of failure modes might be introduced, due to lack of knowledge and unforeseen interdependencies in the system design, operation complexity, and environmental challenges. Cyber-attacks, connectivity, interactions between components and between technical systems and humans, and autonomy assisted accidents were among the challenges.
IUMI said that, to become insurable, the use of autonomous systems would have to rely on proper industry standards, certification and classification regimes. Verification of safe performance would be crucial.
In May 2017, YARA and Kongsberg entered into a partnership to build the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container vessel; “YARA Birkeland”, and operation was planned to start in the latter half of 2018, shipping products between three ports in southern Norway. YARA Birkeland would initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019 and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020 on.
In June 2017 the Unmanned Cargo Ship Development Alliance was officially formed in Shanghai, featuring maritime industry partners including class organizations, shipyards, equipment manufacturers and designers, aiming for the delivery of China’s first unmanned cargo vessel by October 2021.
Also in June 2017, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed to undertake a regulatory scoping exercise to determine the extent of the need to amend the regulatory framework to enable the safe, secure and environmental operation of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) within the existing IMO instruments. Four sessions would be needed to complete the exercise. Member States and international organizations had been encouraged to submit proposals and comments to MSC 99 in May 2018.
IUMI said that it would:
- Monitor ongoing industry and government-run projects.
- Monitor scoping exercise performed by the IMO and take part in discussions on any regulatory amendments.
- Encourage classification societies to take an active role in both technical and operational risk aspects of increasingly autonomous vessels.
- Encourage the development of industry standards, certification schemes and class requirements for autonomous systems.