The Seabots are
Coming Here: Should They Be Treated as 'Vessels'?
65 Journal of Navigation 749-752 (Oct. 2012)
5 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2012 Last revised: 5 Jan 2014
Date Written: April 20, 2012
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?
Keywords: unmanned marine vehicles, UMVs, seabots, seagoing drones, law of the sea, collision regulations, COLREGS
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