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

Programme and Operations Manager, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

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

Project & Operations Support Fellow



April 20, 2023

October 26, 2022

October 14, 2022


Please see the list of peer-reviewed articles published in international journals under the EU H2020 BUGWRIGHT2 project. Links to open access are provided under the project which has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 871260.  The team acknowledges the generous funding of the World Maritime University (WMU)-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute by The Nippon Foundation.


  • Johansson, T.; Dalaklis, D.; Echebarria Fernandez, J.; Pastra, A. and Skinner, J. (2023) eds., "Autonomous Vessel in Maritime Affairs: Law & Governance Implications", Palgrave Macmillan
  • Johansson, T.; Echebarria Fernandez, J.; Dalaklis, D.; Pastra, A. and Lennan, M. (2023) eds., "Smart Ports & Robotic Systems: Navigating the Waves of Techno-regulation & Governance", Palgrave Macmillan.


  • Aspasia Pastra, Nathalie Schauffel, Thomas Ellwart & Tafsir Johansson (2022) “Building a trust ecosystem for remote inspection technologies in ship hull inspections”, Law, Innovation and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17579961.2022.2113666
  • Aspasia Pastra, Tafsir Johansson, “Towards a Harmonized Framework for Vessel Inspection via Remote Techniques“, Proceedings of the 32nd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2022), 28th August – 1st September 2022, Dublin, Ireland. Doi: 10.3850/978-981-18-5183-4_J03-07-636-cd.
  • Ríán Derrig (2022). Inspecting Ships Autonomously under Port State Jurisdiction: Towards Sustainability and Biodiversity in the EU, The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (published online ahead of print 2022). doi:
  • Tafsir Johansson (2022) Advances in Robotics and Autonomous Systems for Hull Inspection and Maintenance (2021) in “Emerging Technology and the Law of the Sea” (James Kraska and Young-Kil Park, eds.), Cambridge University Press
  • Tafsir Johansson, Aspasia Pastra, and Ríán Derrig (2022), "Analysis of the Legal Framework", Deliverable Report D1.4: WP01, BUGWRIGHT2: Autonomous Robotic Inspection and Maintenance on Ship Hulls and Storage Tanks
  • Tafsir Johansson et al. (Forthcoming 2022) RAS Techno-regulatory Regime: Six Blocks of Dynamic Influence Towards Good Environmental Stewardship, Intersentia, Cambridge, UK


  • Tafsir Matin Johansson, Dimitrios Dalaklis, Aspasia Pastra, “Maritime Robotics and Autonomous Systems Operations: Exploring Pathways for Overcoming International Techno-Regulatory Data Barriers” Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (JMSE) 2021, 9(6), 594.
  • Vera Alexandropoulou, Tafsir Johansson, Klimanthia Kontaxaki, Aspasia Pastra, and Dimitrios Dalaklis (2021) “Maritime Remote Inspection Technology in Hull Survey & Inspection: A Synopsis of Liability Issues from a European Union Context”, Journal of International Maritime Safety, Environmental Affairs and Shipping (Taylor & Francis)



  • Dr Aspasia Pastra, (2023) "Remote Inspections Techniques (Drones, Remotely Operated Vehicles and Magnetic Crawlers)"
    Brainstorming workshop in Göteborg/Sweden at the Seminar for Scandinavian Port Security Facility Officers, organised by the Nordic Crisis Management.
    18 - 19 April 2023


  • Tafsir Johansson (2022) Regulating Emerging Technologies for Vessel Hull Inspection and Maintenance: Recommendations for Reform, Brazilian Institute for the Law of the Sea (IBDMAR), BILOS VI Congress on the
    27 - 28 of October 2022
  • Tafsir Johansson (2022) Deployment of Remote Inspection Techniques Maintaining Dynamic Governance: Umbrella Regulation or Self-Regulation? 7th International Conference on Ocean Law and Policy; Interdisciplinary Policy and Law on Artificial Intelligence in Maritime Affairs,
    14 October 2022
  • Tafsir Johansson (2022) Reconnoitring Techno-regulatory Dimensions of the Human Environment in Maritime Robotics & Autonomous Systems, IMO-WMU Conference, October 2022; Protecting the Ocean – Moving Forward at 50: London Convention and Stockholm Declaration
    10 - 13 October 2022
  • Aspasia Pastra, Tafsir Johansson, “Towards a Harmonized Framework for Vessel Inspection via Remote Techniques“, 32nd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2022)
    Dublin, Ireland
    28 August – 1 September 2022
  • Tafsir Johansson, “Law of the Sea and Class Techno-regulatory Dynamic Governance”, 45th Annual Conference on Oceans Law and Policy: UNCLOS at 40,
    17 March 2022
  • Tafsir Johansson, “Trust Ecosystem and Dynamic Governance in Vessel Class Survey”, Presentation at InterAct Kick-off Workshop, University of Copenhagen,
    4 March 2022


  • Tafsir Johansson (2021) “International-arrangements Analysis”,
    World Maritime University (WMU)-International Maritime Organization (IMO) Webinar Series: EU Horizon 2020 BUGWRIGHT2: Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for Service Robotics in an Ocean Industry Context
    01 December 2021
  • Aspasia Pastra (2021) “National Comparative Analysis”,
    World Maritime University (WMU)-International Maritime Organization (IMO) Webinar Series: EU Horizon 2020 BUGWRIGHT2: Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for Service Robotics in an Ocean Industry Context.
    01 December 2021
  • Ríán Derrig (2021) “European Union Analysis: Regulating to Use New Technology for Better Shipping”,
    World Maritime University (WMU)-International Maritime Organization (IMO) Webinar Series: EU Horizon 2020 BUGWRIGHT2: Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for Service Robotics in an Ocean Industry Context
    01 December 2021
  • Tafsir Johansson. “Overcoming International Regulatory Barriers for Remote Inspection Technology in an Ocean Industry Context”, 2021 Global Ocean Regime Conference: Technological Innovation and the Role of the Law of the Sea, Organized by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries & Korea Maritime institute
  • Tafsir Johansson, and Aspasia Pastra. “Remote Inspection Technologies and the Human Element”, World Maritime Day 2021: Seafarers at the Core of Shipping’s Future, Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association.
    30 September 2021
  • Tafsir Johansson; Dimitrios Dalaklis; Thomas Klenum, and Aspasia Pastra. “Addressing Uncertainties in RAS Integration for Ships’ Hull Inspection and Maintenance: Through the Prism of International Environmental Law”, EELF Annual Conference 2021
    8-10 September 2021

Contact Information

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Phone: +46 40 356 351