Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for Service Robotics in an Ocean Industry Context

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about the project

A commitment to ensure successful technology-policy interface for the seamless integration of oceanic remote technologies

The World Maritime University - Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute is pleased to implement the project “BUGWRIGHT2: Autonomous Robotic Inspection and Maintenance on Ship Hulls” with the generous support of the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (under Grant Agreement No. 871260). Under the auspices of BUGWRIGHT2, the GOI seeks to overcome regulatory barriers for service robotics in an ocean industry context to ameliorate machine-learning-based human-robot interaction (HRI). Read more and download the Project Brochure here

About the Project

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is a postgraduate maritime university founded in 1983 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. WMU offers unique postgraduate educational programmes, undertakes wide-ranging research in maritime and ocean-related studies, and continues global capacity building in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The European 2020 flagship, i.e., Innovative Union is implemented by the financial instrument known as Horizon 2020. The rationale behind the implementation and financial support is primarily aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Funded under this initiative, BUGWRIGHT2 consists of a large consortium bringing together not only the technological knowledge from academia but the complete value chain of the inspection robotic market.

The World Maritime University-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (GOI) is proud to be a consortium partner to the BUGWRIGHT2 umbrella initiative and has committed to delivering a series of tasks that will help overcome regulatory barriers for service robotics used by the ocean industry. The principal work of the GOI is to provide an insight on the complex legal framework concerning hull cleaning, inspection and

maintenance using Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs), small Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) coupled with teams of magnetic-wheeled crawlers. The potentials are limitless. Notwithstanding, a roadmap is in order for those remote technologies to thrive in a world that is dominated by human presence.

The research theme of the principal task undertaken consists of two distinct strands, a state-of-the-art legal insight into the standardization and certification rules and procedures developed by international organizations, the European Union and selected jurisdictions, and the pragmatic aspects concerned with preparing recommendations for the reform and the progressive development of relevant norms and policy advice concerning autonomous robotics regulation and standards. The results from the two strands will form the Regulatory Blueprint that is expected to enhance the competitiveness of European robotics technology in a highly competitive global market.

The work of the GOI is steered by a group of high-level experts comprising the GOI Senior Advisory Group (SAG). Together with support from the SAG and BUGWRIGHT2 Consortium Members, GOI intends to develop a code of conduct based on the regulatory blueprint in consultation with IMO.

Focus and outline

Research Focus

Work Package (WP) 1.4

  • Develop methodology for the evaluation of existing norms and standards; 
  • Review existing international arrangements;
  • Conduct comparative national case studies;
  • Analyze relevant European Union legislative framework; and
  • Produce a distinctive and state-of-the-art regulatory and policy blueprint

Work Package (WP) 10.4

  • Deliver workshops, serve meetings and technical working groups;
  • Consult and engage with classification societies and industry bodies;
  • Provide recommendations for reform based on regulatory blueprint; and
  • Disseminate recommendations in consultation with the International Maritime Organization

Some of the project Outcomes

Inform stakeholders of all relevant regulations for the benefit of end-users

Harmonize rules pertaining to maritime service robotics 

Dissemination and Exploitation of Knowledge through International Conferences;

 Develop state-of-the-art regulatory blueprint for efficient inspection of ship hulls

The Team

Meet the Research Team

Principal Investigator, Associate Research Officer

Area of Research
Ocean Governance, Science-policy Interface, Vessels of Concern, Sustainable Development, Environmental Excellence

"Identifying regulatory barriers concerning optimized technologies for improved ocean governance has been the crux of my work at the GOI. I believe robotics, virtual reality and big data is the future. I also believe that barriers need to come down and silos need to be broken for "technology" and "regulation" to coexist. Despite characteristic differences, they have always remained in the same continuum. BUGWRIGHT2 is a project that has brought me closer to that realization." 

Post Doctoral Fellow, Research Associate

Area of Research
Maritime Policy, State-of-the-Art Regulatory Projects, Sustainable Development, Environmental Protection, Shipping Governance

“My involvement in BUGWRIGHT2 stems from the need to be a part of an initiative that is revolutionary in nature. The project itself revolves around an esoteric landscape that requires trans-disciplinary research and pragmatic partnership between robotic system developers and end-users. Although challenging, there are plenty of gaps and drawbacks that need to be addressed before automation in the ocean industry becomes a reality. I am glad to be a part of this robotech-regulatory renaissance”.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Area of Research
Exploring theoretical and practical challenges, international and EU law, autonomous technological systems, ocean shipping

“The task of relating legal norms and instruments to developing scientific knowledge has posed questions that are among the most interesting and challenging of legal theory. The urgent practical and policy necessity driving this project - of appraising and reforming the international, EU and national legal regulation of autonomous and service robots employed in ocean industries - prompts engagement with just such questions."

Director, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Project Engagement and Implementation Officer, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Head of Research and Project Lead, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Project & Operations Support Fellow

Contact Information

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Phone: +46 40 356 351