When assessing the possibilities of defining a machine-based visual lookout for use in ships in international commercial traffic, it quickly becomes apparent that the current legal system needs some adjustment. The provisions in SOLAS, STCW 2010 and COLREG are very descriptive with the weight of requirements on matters such as the design and construction of the bridge and the vision and hearing of the able seaman or rating of the watch. In a goal-based system, it would be preferred to develop functional descriptions for the lookout, with the minimum levels of information input defined.
This paper assesses the performance of an electronic lookout function from the available sensory input data and associated fundamental limitations of the visual lookout performed by a human. The conclusion demonstrates that an equal, or better, level can be achieved by means of technology. In addition, this paper does not study audible sensory input. Following the introduction of totally enclosed bridges, it is generally accepted that the audible signals can be provided by a sound reception system (SOLAS Ch. V/220.127.116.11).