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Article South Korea: Act on Promoting Development and Commercialization of Autonomous Ships Promulgated

On January 2, 2024, the Act on Promoting the Development and Commercialization of Autonomous Ships (Act No. 19909) was published in Gwanbo, South Korea’s official gazette. The act aims to promote the development of technology and key equipment for autonomous ships, lay the foundation for the safe operation of autonomous ships, and establish a maritime logistics system for the commercialization of autonomous ships. (Autonomous Ships Act art. 1.) The act will take effect one year after its publication. (Supp. Provisions.)

Background to the Autonomous Ships Act

According to the Korea Herald, in 2019, the minister of oceans and fisheries (MOF) and the minister of trade, industry and energy (MOTIE) announced that their joint autonomous ship project had passed the preliminary feasibility studies. The two ministries established the Korea Autonomous Surface Ship (KASS) Project, which would run from 2020 through 2025, to develop the core technology of autonomous ships and lay the foundation for commercialization. In July 2023, South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heay Industries reported that it had successfully demonstrated autonomous vessel navigation from South Korea to Taiwan.

Key Contents of the Act

The act defines the term “autonomous ship” as a ship that is capable of operating on its own by an autonomous system without any intervention by a person, such as a sailor or remote operator. (Art. 2, para. 1, subpara. 1.)

The act requires the MOF and the MOTIE to jointly establish a master plan for promoting the development and commercialization of autonomous ships every five years. (Art. 4.) The MOTIE will also establish and implement a plan for the development of autonomous ships. (Art. 5.) The MOF will establish and implement an annual plan for the proliferation of autonomous ships and the establishment of a maritime logistics system for them. (Art. 6.) The MOF and MOTIE will establish a committee consisting of experts and government officials to deliberate and decide on policies and important matters concerning autonomous ships. (Art. 8.)

The MOF will designate the autonomous ship operating area. (Art. 9, para. 1.) The autonomous ship operating area means an area where autonomous ships can operate safely and receive support for their operation. (Art. 2, para. 1, subpara. 5.) The MOF and governors who have jurisdiction over the area will take measures for the safe operation of autonomous ships. (Art. 9, paras. 2, 3.)

The MOF will implement a project to establish a maritime logistics system that includes advancing maritime traffic information services, upgrading information and communication networks for autonomous ships, and automating port facilities. (Art. 12.)

The MOF will determine the circumstances necessary for operation and verification of autonomous ships, as well as conduct safety assessments on autonomous vessels and equipment. (Art. 19.) A person who intends to test or demonstrate an autonomous ship must subscribe to liability insurance after obtaining approval to sail from the MOF. The MOF may attach conditions necessary for securing safe operation of an autonomous ship when approving the operation. (Art. 20.)

Sayuri Umeda, Law Library of Congress
February 13, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Umeda, Sayuri. South Korea: Act on Promoting Development and Commercialization of Autonomous Ships Promulgated. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-12/south-korea-act-on-promoting-development-and-commercialization-of-autonomous-ships-promulgated/.

APA citation style:

Umeda, S. (2024) South Korea: Act on Promoting Development and Commercialization of Autonomous Ships Promulgated. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-12/south-korea-act-on-promoting-development-and-commercialization-of-autonomous-ships-promulgated/.

MLA citation style:

Umeda, Sayuri. South Korea: Act on Promoting Development and Commercialization of Autonomous Ships Promulgated. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-12/south-korea-act-on-promoting-development-and-commercialization-of-autonomous-ships-promulgated/>.