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The legal status and operation of unmanned maritime vehicles

The legal status and operation of unmanned maritime vehicles
The legal status and operation of unmanned maritime vehicles

The number of unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) and their potential applications in the marine space are growing constantly. Because of their comparatively small size and limited operations, only modest attention has been paid to how they fit into the international legal framework. Many UMVs may not be considered to fall under the definition of "ship" so as to enjoy states' rights of navigation under UNCLOS. Therefore states, manufacturers, and investors remain uncertain about the rights and obligations regarding UMV operations in the various maritime zones. This article addresses these questions for a range of UMVs with differing levels of autonomy. It argues that the international legal framework delegates the question of whether a UMV is a ship or not to the flag state's national laws. The article suggests that such a determination will be binding on other states. With respect to UMVs that do not fall under the definition of ship, there is remaining uncertainty about whether any navigational rights in the jurisdictional zones of other states are available, while it is argued that such rights do exist in the areas beyond national jurisdiction. The article also considers the extent to which today's UMVs can comply with the international framework for ensuring safety at sea. For those UMVs falling under the definition of ship, compliance with the current regulatory framework for shipping is required and compliance will be more difficult as the level of UMV autonomy increases.

autonomy, drones, International Maritime Organization, law of the sea, Unmanned maritime vehicles
0090-8320
Veal, Robert
0a5c3c23-1619-4f9b-9226-37418dbc796e
Tsimplis, Michael
df6dd749-cda4-46ec-983c-bf022d737031
Serdy, Andrew
0b9326c4-8a5a-468f-9ca8-7368ccb07663
Veal, Robert
0a5c3c23-1619-4f9b-9226-37418dbc796e
Tsimplis, Michael
df6dd749-cda4-46ec-983c-bf022d737031
Serdy, Andrew
0b9326c4-8a5a-468f-9ca8-7368ccb07663

Veal, Robert, Tsimplis, Michael and Serdy, Andrew (2019) The legal status and operation of unmanned maritime vehicles. Ocean Development and International Law. (doi:10.1080/00908320.2018.1502500).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The number of unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) and their potential applications in the marine space are growing constantly. Because of their comparatively small size and limited operations, only modest attention has been paid to how they fit into the international legal framework. Many UMVs may not be considered to fall under the definition of "ship" so as to enjoy states' rights of navigation under UNCLOS. Therefore states, manufacturers, and investors remain uncertain about the rights and obligations regarding UMV operations in the various maritime zones. This article addresses these questions for a range of UMVs with differing levels of autonomy. It argues that the international legal framework delegates the question of whether a UMV is a ship or not to the flag state's national laws. The article suggests that such a determination will be binding on other states. With respect to UMVs that do not fall under the definition of ship, there is remaining uncertainty about whether any navigational rights in the jurisdictional zones of other states are available, while it is argued that such rights do exist in the areas beyond national jurisdiction. The article also considers the extent to which today's UMVs can comply with the international framework for ensuring safety at sea. For those UMVs falling under the definition of ship, compliance with the current regulatory framework for shipping is required and compliance will be more difficult as the level of UMV autonomy increases.

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R Veal M Tsimplis and A Serdy The legal status and operation of unmanned maritime vehicles (ODIL) - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 17 April 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 22 January 2019
Keywords: autonomy, drones, International Maritime Organization, law of the sea, Unmanned maritime vehicles

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428448
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428448
ISSN: 0090-8320
PURE UUID: 46b0be76-7f7f-4141-b902-952a70dcf57a
ORCID for Robert Veal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6118-8658
ORCID for Andrew Serdy: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4727-6536

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 06:41

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Author: Robert Veal ORCID iD
Author: Michael Tsimplis
Author: Andrew Serdy ORCID iD

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