WEBINAR - EU Horizon 2020 BUGWRIGHT2: Overcoming Regulatory Barriers for Service Robotics in an Ocean Industry Context

As part of the IMO Ocean Group Webinar Series, on 1 December, the World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute welcomed the international community to a public webinar on findings derived from the EU Horizon 2020 Programme funded project BUGWRIGHT2: “Autonomous Robotic Inspection and Maintenance on Ship Hulls”. The WMU H2020 BUGWRIGHT2 project team presented the webinar titled “Overcoming Regulatory Barriers For Service Robotics In An Ocean Industry Context.”

In his introduction, Mr. Fredrik Haag, WMU Alumnus and acting Head of the Office for the London Convention/Protocol and Ocean Affairs, Marine Environment Division at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) noted that the IMO Webinar Series is an excellent platform to disseminate research work conducted by academic institutions, such as the World Maritime University, and he expressed IMO’s gratitude to WMU for taking on the challenge. 

Professor Ronán Long, Director of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, thanked the IMO, The Nippon Foundation, and the Governments of Sweden, Canada and Germany for their invaluable support to the Institute. He highlighted that the webinar marks an important milestone in the advancement of the project which aims to bridge the gap between current and desired capabilities of ship survey and service robots. He said, “Initiatives such as this particular project could not be more timely. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of automation and robotics in all industries, including the shipping industry”

The presentations focused on four specific thematic strands where the research project team shared first-hand insights and findings from research conducted under the work package titled “legal insights”. 

Associate Research Officer and Principal Investigator, Dr. Tafsir Johansson, addressed the participants regarding International-arrangements Analysis and highlighted new techniques leading to safer ships and improved competitiveness as well as the IMO strategic directions for implementation of new improved technologies to respond to ocean and climate challenges. Dr. Johansson also presented first-hand insight into the regulatory blueprint consisting of essential pillars which could harmonize international efforts leading to seamless integration of remote technologies into the current manual-driven system. 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Aspasia Pastra, presented a National Comparative Analysis conducted in six leading maritime nations. The study evaluated the level of innovation and autonomy in these countries and identified best practices that will help drafting the regulatory landscape for remote inspections. The study identified three elements; Technical Robustness and Safety, Data Governance, and Regulation and Policies which will help make remote inspections techniques (RITs) trustworthy.

Dr. Ríán Derrig presented European Union Analysis that focused on the importance of using regulatory frameworks and EU Proposals to promote the inspection of ship-hulls more frequently in order to achieve slowing of climate change by reducing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency from fossil fuel burning ships. Dr. Derrig also reflected on greenhouse gas emissions from ships and expressed the importance of speeding up the decarbonization of ships by welcoming all regulations and measures to do so. 

The BUGWRIGHT2 project commenced on 1 January 2020 and is composed of 21 consortium members. A Senior Advisory Group of high-level experts from academia,  industry and government are currently steering the work and the reports produced by the BUGWRIGHT2 research teams. The principal objective of the BUGWRIGHT2 project is to bridge the gap between the current and desired capabilities of service robotics, i.e., micro aerial vehicles, magnetic crawlers and remotely operated vehicles, through the development and demonstration of an adaptable autonomous robotic solution for servicing outer hulls of bulk carriers. The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute’s task involves development of a techno-regulatory blueprint that takes  into account the state-of-play at the international level with selected jurisdictions (US, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, China and Singapore) as well as the state-of-play from EuropeanUnion regional level. The final work package will address questions on self regulation, umbrella regulations, and the evolution of norms and principles that will bolster support for the regulatory blueprint and highlight critical areas that require attention. 

Further information on the project is available on the WMU-GOI BUGWRIGHT2 website as well as the H2020 Buwgright2 consortium website.

To access the webinar recording, click here.

About the World Maritime University and WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The mission of WMU is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development. WMU’s vision is to inspire leadership and innovation for a sustainable maritime and oceans future. WMU is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute was inaugurated in May 2018 and made possible through generous support from The Nippon Foundation of Japan, the Governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany, as well as the City of Malmö. The vision of the Institute is to act as an independent focal point for the ocean science-policy-law-industry-society interface where policy makers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

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