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European Training and research network on Autonomous Barges for Smart Inland Shipping (AUTOBarge).

Europe's waterways are a vital resource that we have underused for most of the last century. Now, with the possibility for mass autonomous shipping, these canals and rivers offer a network of opportunities for sustainable logistics. A number of operational and technological research projects aiming at setting up such system are currently taking place. Apart from operational and technologic innovations being required for such market introduction, also important legal innovations stand in the way of a succesful commercial market introduction. These legal challenges exist both at the level of Regulation as at the level of contract law. The project aims to eliminate obstacles in both fields. A large number of provisions in existing regulation oppose against unmanned inland navigation. The problem underlying this, is that a legal framework acknowledging unmanned shipping, going beyond (ad hoc) experiment legislation is absent. This task will analyse regulatory obstacles standing in the way of unmanned shipping and will evaluate the policy arguments behind such obstacles. Based on this, the task will provide a toolbox allowing developers to conduct a compliance check of their designs. Further, it will analyse how such policy arguments were overcome in other industries, such as the airline industry. Based on this input this task aims to make a proposal for a regulatory innovation allowing for a market-introduction of unmanned inland shipping. Also a dedicated contract law framework, taking into account the changed actors, information availability and risks resulting from the evolution to autonomous inland shipping is absent. This absence leads to legal uncertainty, can endanger the insurability of risks and increase transaction costs. With this, the private law framework can constitute an important obstacle towards the commercial use of autonomous inland shipping. This is even more relevant taking into account the mandatory nature of transport law, thus limiting the room for contractual risk management. This task will first of all analyse bottlenecks in the contract law framework, standing in the way of legal certainty, predictability and a fair balance of interests for stakeholders involved in the operation of autonomous inland shipping. Based on this analysis and building on best practises from other fields of law and sector consultation, the task aims to make a proposal for contract drafting and an amended legal framework, ascertaining these interests.
Date:1 Oct 2021 →  Today
Disciplines:Logistics and supply chain management, Administrative law , Civil law, Economic, commercial and financial law, Liability law
Project type:Collaboration project