IMO Seminar on Development of a Regulatory Framework for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)

Monday 5th – Tuesday 6th September 2022, IMO, Online



IMO MASS Seminar is an international two-day virtual conference, bringing together thought leaders from research, academia, business and government to discuss the big challenges and new approaches needed to create a new regulation, namely "MASS Code".  It is expected that sharing insights on regulatory barriers and uncertainties identified in the ongoing MASS projects can help to develop and establish the regulations to address MASS operations, and facilitate the discussion on how such obstacles can be overcome by establishing a MASS Code.

This Seminar will, among other MASS-related issues, provide a platform to recount the experience gained in the operation of MASS and how individual member States have addressed the matter in their national legislation.

This Seminar will cover a wide range of topics including:

1.    current MASS projects and lessons learned from their operation, including suggestions on functional or operational requirements;

2.    common legal barriers, uncertainties and opportunities for operating MASS, including operation within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS);

3.    key principles and a common understanding of the purpose and objectives for of the future IMO MASS Code and the novel approach to be taken to address MASS in an IMO goal-based regulatory framework; and

4.    any other relevant aspects to consider for concerning the safe and legally sound operation of MASS.

The Seminar will also offer ample opportunity for panel discussions to participants, and the chance to exchange views on the additional opportunities and international efforts needed to support IMO in its effort to ensure the safe and legally sound operation of MASS.


The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO, at its 103rd session in May 2021, has completed a regulatory scoping exercise (RSE) to analyze relevant ship safety treaties, in order to assess how MASS could be regulated. The outcome highlights a number of high-priority issues to be addressed, cutting across several instruments, that involve, for instance, the development of MASS terminology and definitions, and addressing the functional and operational requirements for the MASS operation.

Based on the outcome of RSE, the MSC noted that the best way forward to address MASS in the IMO regulatory framework could, preferably, be in a holistic manner through the development of a goal-based MASS instrument. Such an instrument could take the form of a "MASS Code", and addressing the various gaps and themes identified by the RSE.

Timetable (TBD)

Monday, 5 September 2022 (all times in BST (UTC+1))

09:00 Opening remarks by the Director of the Maritime Safety Division