Towards autonomous inland waterway vessels — a comprehensive analysis of regulatory, liability and insurance frameworks

Yaseen Adnan Ahmed, Gerasimos Theotokatos, Ilia Maslov, Lars Andreas Lien Wennersberg, Dag Atle Nesheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


The use of maritime autonomous vessels for the inland waterway (IWW) transport can revolutionise the current logistics supply chain and enable the shifting of the cargo transportation from the less efficient road and rail transport modes. However, the lack of guidelines and requirements for the operation and testing of autonomous vessels must be addressed to enable autonomous operations. This study aims to identify the gaps of the prevailing regulatory, liability and insurance frameworks and propose viable recommendations for the operation and testing of the autonomous IWW vessels. The theoretical case study of a next-generation autonomous ship operating in European IWW along with the required key enabling technologies is considered. A systematic methodological approach is followed focusing on the existing, transition and next-generation stages for developing autonomous vessels. The existing stage deals with classifying the identified gaps considering the categories of high, moderate or low severity, whereas the anticipated new stakeholders with associated risks in the context of autonomous vessels are analysed. The transition stage discusses recommendations to mitigate the identified gaps of the analysed existing frameworks by either developing interpretations, amending existing instruments or proposing new instruments. The proposed recommendations demonstrate a pathway towards upgrading the existing frameworks based on the identified severity levels and hence are expected to be beneficial for the policymakers whilst preparing the roadmap for the design and operation of next-generation autonomous ship (NGAS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-101
Number of pages29
JournalWMU Journal of Maritime Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • autonomous vessels
  • comprehensive analysis
  • insurance framework
  • liabilities framework
  • regulatory framework
  • inland waterways


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