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New lab syncs technology and law

18 February 2021
Susanne Stenberg

The smart ships of the future will make shipping safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly, but in order for them to be fully developed and used, new rules are needed. So it's just a matter of letting the lawyers do their thing and create them? No, it's not that simple anymore. The more complex society becomes and the faster the technological development goes, the silo menthality must go away. A new working method is needed where, for example, engineers, systems scientists, environmental scientists and lawyers work together to get a greater grip on the whole. In this way, rules can be identified and adapted more quickly, which enables Swedish innovations to enter the market.

"Instead of letting the law become an obstacle, you can take help from it", says Susanne Stenberg, researcher and legal expert at RISE, who leads the project Policylabb smart fartyg.

The project, which runs for 18 months, takes a closer look at three different cases to gain an understanding of the policy challenges surrounding the development of smart ships. One is based on the STA Road Ferries procurement of new ferries, another the Swedish Maritime Administration's project on navigation support from land and a third Saab/Kockum's development of data handling.

"I think the question of responsibility is something that will affect all three cases. A basic principle is that there must always be a person who is responsible and who has to be on board. What happens when you have different types of support functions? How automatic can it be without shifting responsibilities? We will have to delve into such issues and take a closer look."

The Policylabb smart ships project will link a reference group to the work, but a further discussion is also needed. Susanne Stenberg mentions the Lighthouse focus group on smart ships as an example of breadth and competence that one are happy to take bring in.
"It is an important network to disseminate information in, but also to get input and views on our sub-results."

In addition to ensuring legal product or service development in the three specific cases, the idea is that the project will generate one, or perhaps more, general challenges related to the development of smart ships.

"It may not work in the 18 months we have on us, but in the long run I hope that the project will lead to a way for the industry's partners to work together with the law in their development processes", Susanne Stenberg concludes.Related content: 

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