I haven’t seen a lot of fuss out there about the recent release (14 June 17) of the Lloyds Register (LR) Code for Unmanned Marine Systems (UMS). I only say this because it is the first real set of rules and regulations that have been applied to AUVs and USVs, and I think it is a pretty big deal.

For those who don’t know what LR is, or what they do, here is the most concise and brief I can be. LR is one of a few maritime classification societies that produce, upkeep and update a set of codes, rules and guidelines for the design and construction of maritime vessels. They make these documents so that ship and submarine designers have a clear understanding of the requirements they need to achieve to ensure that their design is safe to be commercially operated in their intended operating environment.

So, what is the significance of this? Well up until now, autonomous and unmanned systems have been advancing so quickly that the laws and regulations haven’t really kept up. This means that everyone is coming up with revolutionary ideas to automate the shipping industry, map the ocean floors and much more, but how do you insure something that isn’t bound by some sort of assurance, or classification, organisation? The answer is you can’t.

This is why I am excited and intrigued by this release from LR. It is providing a starting point to which unmanned systems can truly be applied on a large scale in the Maritime Industry. I know a lot of you will be saying; “What about IMO?” and, “But nothing has been certified under this code and who can actually checks this”? And I completely agree with you, there is still a long way to go before we see driverless container ships navigating the world’s oceans, but this is a great step in the right direction and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

If you want to have a read of this new LR code, I will attach the link below and you can have a read. It is only 39 pages and I think it is really interesting.


I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to contact us with your thoughts and views, would love to hear what you think as well.

Harry Hubbert

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