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The PBI Prize 2022 awarded to Henrik Ringbom and Felix Collin

The PBI Prize has been awarded for a chapter published in the scientific book: ”Autonomous Ships and the Law” (2021). The title of the chapter is “Terminology and concepts”. It addresses the key issues and concepts that are necessary for understanding and regulating autonomous ships and how they relate to each other.

All existing maritime rules are based on the assumption that humans are operating the ship and in charge of all decisions on board. The development of technologies that can operate ships autonomously has therefore brought about a need for new rules in this matter, but how those rules should be designed is still open. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has started to work on the matter, but there is still no agreement on the key building blocks that should be identified for the purpose.

The article identifies three key elements that form the core of ship automation: the technical capability, the level of manning and the level of autonomy. All three elements may exist ‘more or less’, on a sliding scale, and they are inter-linked in the sense that a change in one of the elements affects the premises for the other two. The three issues raise very different legal issues and operate on different time-scales, which highlights the need for separating them in the future regulatory framework.

– A workable theoretical framework for addressing autonomous ships is crucial for successfully regulating the matter, Ringbom and Collin emphasize. The regulatory process is only now beginning to take shape at the IMO, and it is hoped that our article can be of assistance for the delegates who are involved in this process, the authors say, hoping that the prize may help to increase the visibility of their research.


The PBI Prize funded by the PBI Foundation is awarded for the second time. The prize is an annual award for internationally high-level Finnish research in company management and organization with special focus on international project activities. The prize is awarded by the PBI Foundation in collaboration with Åbo Akademi University. The prize sum is 5 000 EUR. The awardee is determined through external evaluation and confirmed by the PBI Foundations board.


Further information on the award-winning publication:

Professor Henrik Ringbom
Phone: +358 40 763 1071
E-mail: henrik.ringbom@abo.fi

Further information on the PBI Prize:

Professor Kim Wikström
Phone: +358 40 553 3289
E-mail:  kim.wikstrom@abo.fi