Welcome to the UCL Autonomous Shipping Blog

It is expected that the maritime world will be significantly different by 2050, from smart ports through to blockchain-based shipping documents and autonomous vessels.

The UK Government has recently published a report setting out its Maritime 2050 strategic ambitions, one of which is to ‘legislate for a domestic framework for autonomous vessels to attract international businesses’.

As the shipping industry is preparing for a sea change from labour intensive to autonomous shipping, it is timely to start a debate on the liability regime to be adopted for the carriage of goods by autonomous vessels.

The purpose of our research team is not to suggest an “ideal” liability regime, as the lessons from the past have shown that a widely accepted liability regime usually manifests itself as a compromise, leaving little room for considerations of ideal frameworks in purely legal terms.

In our quest for a solution, we proceed on the premise that our role as legal academics, lawyers and policy groups is an important one, since the traditional concepts of maritime law will have to be revisited together with our understanding of maritime operations and navigation.

It is hoped that this website will start an open and diverse debate, while also giving us a public engagement platform to disseminate our evidence-led findings to the wider audiences.