Identifying operational challenges of autonomous commercial ships with regards to regulations
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The autonomous shipping industry is set to be a game changer in the shipping industry providing a new dimension in shipping delivering for safety of the shipping vessels at sea, security of the shipping vessels and environmental protection. Several autonomous shipping projects have been initiated but the world has not yet experienced fully autonomous ships that fully make their own decisions during navigation. The transition towards full autonomy in the shipping industry is faced with many challenges including regulatory challenges especially in fully autonomous ships. This study seeks to evaluate the regulatory challenges that are facing the autonomous shipping industry. In order to achieve the objectives of this research, the research is going to use qualitative analysis in order to draw opinions and perspectives from experienced players in the shipping industry regarding the regulatory challenges facing autonomous ships. The research will sample relevant stakeholders in the shipping industry through non purposive sampling. The relevant stakeholders will be presented with semi structured interview questions and they would be expected to give responses regular to this area of research. The research conclude that the International shipping conventions set by the IMO such as COLREG, SOLAS and STCW are the most crucial regulatory challenges facing the autonomous shipping industry. The study emphasizes on the need to incorporate the autonomous ships into the current shipping conventions so as to facilitate efficient transition into full autonomy.