Is COLREG enough? Interaction between manned and unmanned ships
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In recent years, there has been a growing interest for autonomous unmanned shipping. Both from research and industry. Between 2013-2015 the EU-project MUNIN investigated the feasibility of trans-ocean unmanned shipping. While trans-ocean drones could be expected to seldom encounter other ships, short-sea shipping would mean intense interaction with other manned SOLAS and non-SOLAS vessels. This rises some serious questions. How can we expect watch keepers on other SOLAS vessels, fishing boats and inexperienced leisure boat skippers to react when they meet an unmanned vessel? Will they behave in the same way as with manned ships today? Is there a need for the unmanned vessel to communicate intentions in different ways than today? Is there a need for humans to know that they are detected by the autonomous vessel, or is enough that they know the drone will adhere to COLREG? Is there a need to designate separate fairways for unmanned vessels? This is a discussion paper pointing to pending research needs relating to interaction between manned and autonomous vessels.