Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group

The use of Maritime Autonomous Systems is developing at a fast pace and will continue to grow as technology and research opens up new opportunities.  MAS operations to date have highlighted important defence, scientific as well as economic benefits. The MAS Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) has been formed to identify the issues related to the operation of Maritime Autonomous Systems in all of the global designated maritime zones; from the high seas into internal waters, and formulate a regulatory framework that could be adopted by the UK and other States as well as the international bodies given the responsibility to regulate the marine and maritime world. These web pages provide some background to the MASRWG, its formation, governance, membership and output. 


The UK Marine Industries Alliance Steering Group has recognised the opportunity to capitalise on the potential growth of MAS.  One of the key challenges to this growth is the development of  a regulatory framework to support the operation of Maritime Autonomous Systems in all of the global designated maritime zones.  In May 2014, the Marine Industries Leadership Council (MILC) endorsed the formation of a regulatory working group to focus on the regulation of USV and the MASRWG was established in August 2014.  The inaugural MASRWG meeting was held on 16th September 2014.  The MASRWG currently has over 30 members from a broad section of government, industry and academia.


The MASRWG has been formed by the UK Marine Industries Alliance and reports to the Marine Industries Leadership Council (MILC).  MILC and its working groups are formally an “ad-hoc advisory group”, and unincorporated. Members give their time and commitment freely and no fees or expenses are paid.  The power of this system is that (at minimal cost) it can manage and orchestrate a unified and comprehensive approach to growth and export for the whole marine industries.

The working group’s main output will be in the form of a draft best practice regulatory framework which will be submitted to the MCA as part of the Open Policy Approach.  Any proposed changes to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations will be through the MCA as the appointed UK Maritime Organisation.  The Terms of Reference can be found here. 

Output from MASRWG

Final Output

The final output from the MASRWG will be a draft best practice regulatory framework for submission to the MCA as part of their Open Policy Approach.

Interim Outputs

The following outputs have been produced by the MASRWG:

  1. International Navigation Conference (RIN) 24th to 26th February 2015 held at the Manchester Conference Centre – Presentation given by Andy Higgins (QinetiQ) on The Development of a UK Regulatory Framework for Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS) Drawing on Recent Practical Operational Experience and MAS Stakeholder Community Consensus. 
  2. Submission of an Information (INF) paper to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee 95th Session (MSC 95) 10/11 June 2015, to raise awareness of MAS and the UK’s work on a regulatory framework.  The paper was submitted to the IMO via the MCA as the appointed UK Maritime Organisation. 


The membership has been drawn from and is open to those organisations that have a national interest in regulatory delivery from industry, operator, Government and academia. Organisations represented include:






James Fanshawe CBE, The Chair