The big, beautiful blue ocean beckons to us all. Whether you love to travel by sail boat or cruise ship, the peace of the sea is always enticing. But what does the future hold for our captains? Will they be looking for work elsewhere or having a cocktail on the dock with the rest of us? Perhaps…because the latest ocean-going vessels have no need for a human captain and the era of self-sailing ships is approaching at a rate of knots.
Shipping is big business: a global industry worth tens of billions of dollars. Millions of containers packed with trillions of products are routinely transported atop the waves. It’s a huge undertaking that requires on-board crews and resources for those employees. Now the maritime industry is looking to reduce the cost of cargo shipping with autonomous technology pioneered by Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce? Yep, the world-famous engineering company is proposing an autonomous ship design that employs HD cameras relayed to shore-bound surveillance teams, sensor technology, thermal imaging and thermal radar. It’s an ambitious project that combines today’s cutting edge communications technology, to make the cargo ship of tomorrow.
Drones are now commonplace and driverless cars are finally in gear. Engineering has brought the world autonomous vehicles, on the ground and in the air. Yet, with two-thirds of our planet covered in water, you might be forgiven for assuming that we might have done the same on the seas sooner.
Setting a 2020 deadline to produce the first crew-reduced vessel, Rolls-Royce envisages a further fifteen years to perfect the design of a fully-functional autonomous ship. It’s not an unreasonable deadline. Smaller, scaled down vessels are already in use by naval forces and researchers – and have been for several years. So if the necessary technology has existed for this long, why is the autonomous shipping movement only just beginning to make waves?
Click here to read about the hurdles the autonomous program is facing, as well as how the rapid rise of smart technology and ever-advancing progress will soon make these dissenting voices become just a drop in the ocean.
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