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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seabots: UMVs

The Seabots are Coming Here: Should They Be Treated as 'Vessels'?
Unmanned marine vehicles (UMVs), like their aerial cousins, the UAVs, are not easily classified under existing legal regimes. Even though unmanned, should these seagoing drones be treated as "vessels" under the Law of the Sea Convention articles on navigation rights and duties? Are they "vessels" under the Rules of the Road (i.e., the COLREGS)? If so, should they be accorded a maneuvering priority vis-a-vis other vessels? Are the differences between autonomous UMVs and the increasingly automated manned vessels all that great, that classification should turn on whether the vessel is manned rather than how navigation and collision avoidance decisions are made?