Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

A Criticism of Proposed Levels of Autonomy for MASS

Ørnulf Jan Rødseth1 and Lars Andreas Lien Wennersberg2

1Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships, Norway.

2SINTEF Ocean, Norway.


Levels of Autonomy (LOA) is a popular subject in both scientific and regulatory literature. This applies to many different types of autonomous systems, but here we will focus on "Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship" (MASS). LOA is often looked at as a scale on which one can measure autonomy, as if it is a gradually emerging property of a system. We will argue that it is more useful to look at autonomy as a binary concept, it is either present or it is not. There are differences in what functions the autonomy covers and under what conditions autonomy can be used safely, but that is not something that can easily be measured on a numeric scale.

Keywords: Levels of autonomy, Operational envelope, Constrained autonomy, MASS.

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