Among the key changes is change of the definition, from 'Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)' to 'Maritime Autonomous Ship Systems (MASS)', in order to embrace “Ship Systems”.

The Maritime UK Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) published the first code of practice in November 2017, with the second version following in November 2018 and third in November 2019.

Although it is not a legal text, the Code has been used by manufacturers, service providers, and others as part of their day-to-day work. Many manufacturers have reported clients requiring compliance with the Code as a basis for contractual negotiations.

Previous versions were focused on the design and manufacture of vessels, the operation of autonomous vessels, and a particular focus on skills and training. Last year’s version added a section on inland waterways and the principles that should underpin the design, manufacture, and operation of autonomous vessels.

This year's Code of Practice ushers in a new focus on “Ship Systems”, as well as adding chapters on Cyber Security, Pilotage, Dynamic Positioning, and Vessel Data Recording.

Reflecting a growing appreciation of the role that language plays in creating an inclusive sector, the Code also shifts from referring to unmanned to uncrewed vessels.

Finally, the update includes a new map of UK Operational and Evaluation areas.

Version 4 of the Code of Practice provide guidelines which enable that development to continue in a safe, efficient, and sustainable way within the general order of the existing regulatory framework for life at sea. There are a number of new elements and updates to this version of the Code, including a chapter on Cyber Security. The working group has worked hard to deliver this version of guidance, ensuring we are all able to keep pace with global developments,

...said James Fanshawe, the MASRWG Chair.

Autonomy continues to change the way we live and work, and I commend the working group for making sure those that need it have robust, leading guidance to own and operate MASS,

...added Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK.