The International Maritime Organization has conducted a Regulatory Scoping Exercise (IMO MSC.1-Circ.1638) which defines levels of autonomy (for seagoing ships) in four categories:
- Degree One: Ship with automated processes and decision support. Seafarers are on board to operate and control shipboard systems and functions. Some operations may be automated and at times be unsupervised but with seafarers on board ready to take control.
- Degree Two: Remotely controlled ship with seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location. Seafarers are available on board to take control and to operate the shipboard systems and functions.
- Degree Three: Remotely controlled ship without seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location. There are no seafarers on board.
- Degree Four: Fully autonomous ship. The operating system of the ship is able to make decisions and determine actions by itself.