Chapters in the Maritime Industry: Sailing Along with Style!
Chapters in the Maritime Industry: Sailing Along with Style!
Fugro introduced the arrival in Abu Dhabi of the Fugro Pegasus, the self-driving floor ship, and the newest addition to the Blue Essence collection of ships, to be the primary autonomous ship of its variety within the Center East, prepared for its maiden voyage within the Gulf. Al Arabi, in a step that represents a qualitative leap within the maritime sector within the area.
Fugro Pegasus is the primary absolutely autonomous floor ship within the Center East, with a size of 12 meters, and is able to launching an e-ROV autonomous car, protecting a large space of operation.
The ship can be characterised by its small measurement, and operates on a hybrid and superior energy system, and is supplied with fashionable satellite tv for pc expertise. Fugro Pegasus will contribute to elevating the requirements of asset inspections, by decreasing reliance on the human factor within the marine surroundings, decreasing emissions by 97% in comparison with the work of typical marine autos, along with the opportunity of putting them within the water for an extended interval with out the necessity to dock to refuel or Carry out crew associated actions.
Fugro Pegasus will assist increase the horizons of the maritime sector within the area, and can play an vital position in selling the world’s main geographical information providers that Fugro gives to its prospects.
Fugro will handle this vessel by means of considered one of its distant work facilities within the area, to contribute to bettering the effectiveness of its options, and the supply of geographical information quicker and extra securely.
Fugro adopts a imaginative and prescient centered on selling the adoption of distant work options in asset inspection, monitoring and centralization within the marine sector, and secures to its companions and prospects the flexibility to handle self-driving belongings extra effectively, counting on synthetic intelligence applied sciences and the experience of the main firm within the discipline of marine infrastructure, making certain the discount of of misplaced time when work is stopped or upkeep is carried out.
Tim Lyle, Director of Fugro Center East and India, mentioned: “Fogrow Pegasus paves the best way for growing the way forward for the maritime sector and marine operations within the Center East, due to its fashionable options that guarantee elevated operational effectivity, improved security ranges, and a decrease carbon footprint, thus enhancing The providers we offer to our purchasers.”
Autonomy has been in the R&D roadmaps for over a decade, and it is getting serious. Contrary to common- places, it is not a goal by itself, but it can have a terrific impact on the shipping sector’s sustainability, safety, and environmental targets. As a matter of fact, recent and famous projects like Yara Birkeland and ASKO show that environmental targets have driven investments into autonomous shipping vessels by cargo owners.
For sure, the technology behind autonomy inherently supports cost efficiency, but not only or necessarily by replacing crews: differently, it can certainly ease a part of their job. Constrained operations under human supervision can – in fact – limit risks and decrease seafarers’ labour. On the other hand, with increasing personnel in remote control centres, smaller crew accommodations can enable new designs, allowing for more cargo holds and increasing cost efficiency, supporting demand growth. In contrast, smaller vessel fleets can change logistics and improve routes between smaller ports.
Overall, a more competitive and reliable fleet can generate new seamless and resilient logistics, gaining traction against road transport and supporting the EC targets to decongest them. This may be the case as far as Inland Waterways are concerned, but there is not one business case fitting all scenarios. Looking at the infrastructure and the value-chain, autonomy eventually supports resilience, providing new instruments to withstand contingencies, from pandemics to climate crisis events.
In any case, the picture is complex, and great attention must be kept considering all instances and societal counterparts in the process. We are just at the beginning, although the first use cases are real.
Aiming at better, more efficient, and sustainable operations through digitalisation and automation, the autonomous ships technology perfectly merges into the smart logistics scenario, involving ports and the water transport infrastructure. The liaison between the two areas has just started to be explored. Indeed, the full development of the technology does require automatic mooring, Shore Control Centres and different sensing and telecommunication technologies “off board”. In the EU-funded project AUTOSHIP – Autonomous Shipping Initiative for European Waters, a technology-based Stakeholder Analysis has been performed based on a systematic investigation of the last year’s R&D efforts and investments. Innovators and Investors have been mapped by looking, among other sources, into national and EU funded R&D, start-ups and IP portfolios using multiple databases.
A total of 75 – EU and national – R&D Funded Projects were analysed, with a view also to CEF and TEN-T programmes. They uncovered that only a few emerging initiatives have been looking together at autonomous transport and logistics in the same picture. The R&D has been focussing on building blocks that have been studied separately.
Projects addressing autonomous vessel technology have been developed with a vibrant core in Norway and Germany: like Autoship, they have been implementing and demonstrating key enabling technologies, including sensing and remote control, while relevant regulations are under discus- sion by competent authorities. On the other hand, e-infrastructure and automation in ports have not been directly related to autonomy. Still, they are connected to the requirements that autonomy demands for developing Vessel-to-Shore interfaces.
Correspondingly, by analysing the expertise of 335 involved organisations and mapping their role in the maritime transport and logistics value chain, a prominent number of Technology Providers/Developers (198 organisations) can be found, including emerging market leaders.
The next step is the definition of integrated business cases: the presence of relevant clients (e.g. cargo owners /shippers) has still been limited up to the recent past. However, this trend has rapidly been changing. With the Technology Readiness Level rising, progressively larger and more integrated projects have been developed where the autonomous technology seamlessly connects to cargo-owners, smart ports, and longer value-chains, including the “last-mile” representatives. It is highly likely that this integration will eventually provide the optimal definition of the autonomous/smart shipping market.
CIAOTECH S.r.l. is AUTOSHIP’s coordinator. We are the Italian branch of the PNO Group: Europe’s largest independent public funding and innovation consultancy with more than 30 years of hands-on expertise. In AUTOSHIP, our R&D Advisory team is involved in developing the Stakeholder and Market analyses, in a Cost-Benefit-Analysis for autonomous vessel use cases and in shaping the project business and exploitation plans, facilitating communication and outreach.
Every year, PNO supports more than 3.000 clients in their R&D processes, realising original data-driven and expert-driven analysis and creating over 300 cutting-edge R&D projects – changing the world for the better. We identify where technologies and business are heading, analysing relevant trends, highlighting the focus of innovation leaders and anticipating changes.
The Hyundai intelligent Navigation Assistant System (HiNAS 2.0) is an AI-based navigation solution that covers all steps for voyage from detection to situation analysis, planning and control.
The system assists in safe navigation by displaying AR (augmented reality) images of detected ships and navigation information. Furthermore, it controls heading and speed for collision avoidance and route tracking.
Developed by AVIKUS, a subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the system creates and controls optimal routes for collision avoidance in the ocean, aiming to reduce crew fatigue and increase fuel efficiency.
The multilateral MoU includes a joint study to deploy autonomous navigation systems on board ships to increase technology uptake by the industry and flag states.
During the project, AVIKUS, HHI and LISCR will actively contribute to developing autonomous maritime solutions that comply with DNV Rules on autonomous operations, where AVIKUS aims to obtain an Approval in Principle from DNV as well as the Liberian Flag Administration.
“Through this cooperation, we believe that we will gain momentum to move forward to the next stage of autonomous ship technology. We will try to maintain the leading position in this technology and to increase competitiveness in the future ship market,” said Won Ho Joo, CTO of HHI.
Dohyeong Lim, CEO of AVIKUS said: “This joint development is meaningful in that it includes shipyards, autonomous solution companies, classification, and flag states to commercialize autonomous navigation solutions.
“Based on the results of this project, we will successfully commercialize HiNAS 2.0 and contribute to the improvement of navigation safety and fuel savings.”
Thomas Klenum, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Regulatory Affairs at LISCR said: “As a result of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the fast-paced technology development will pave the way for autonomous shipping.
“This ground-breaking MOU with collaboration between forward-thinking and safety-focused stakeholders will set an example of how artificial intelligence can support and enhance the safety of navigation and reduce GHG emissions.”
“Rightly applied, a higher degree of digitalization can contribute to safety and efficiency enhancements in shipping. Therefore, we are pleased to collaborate with industry technology leaders and help to advance the development of autonomous ships,” said Vidar Dolonen, Regional Manager DNV Maritime Korea & Japan.
“Innovative technologies that enhances safety of navigation and reduce GHG emissions must be supported from a regulatory perspective, and the Liberian Registry is very pleased to collaborate with the other forward-thinking industry leaders to make this groundbreaking HiNAS 2.0 solution a reality” said Alfonso Castillero, CEO of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR).
PEO Ships reports that the the future USNS Apalachicola (EPF 13) Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport has successfully completed acceptance trials and unmanned logistics prototype trials.
Acceptance trials consist of a series of in-port and at-sea demonstrations that allow the Navy and the shipbuilder, Austal USA, to assess the ship’s systems and readiness prior to delivery to the Navy.
“The completion of this milestone is another win for our Navy and industry partners and a testament to the hard work of our shipbuilding team,” said Tim Roberts, program manager, Strategic & Theater Sealift, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “USNS Apalachicola will enhance the operational flexibility needed by our sailors.”
The ship vessel also completed the unmanned logistics prototype trials that we reported on earlier. These assessed autonomous capabilities integrated into the shipboard configuration, demonstrating that a large ship can become a self-driving platform.
In transit from Mobile, Alabama, to Miami, Florida, Apalachicola’s autonomous system completed a stress test in high-traffic coastal areas by taking appropriate ship handling actions while operating around other ships, boats, sailboats, and craft. Overall, the ship was in autonomous mode for approximately 85 percent of the multiple day at-sea period.
The unprecedented development of autonomous capability on Apalachicola is the culmination of collaborative efforts with the Navy’s shipbuilding and industry partners, Austal USA, L3 Harris and General Dynamics.
“The ability to expand unmanned concepts into the existing fleet was validated by these trials,” said Roberts. “The capabilities integrated onto EPF 13 set the groundwork for future autonomous operations.”
EPFs are shallow draft, commercial-based, catamarans designed for rapid, intra-theater transport of personnel and equipment. The EPF’s high speed, shallow draft, and ability to load/unload in austere ports enables maneuver force agility in achieving positional advantage over intermediate distances without reliance on shore-based infrastructure.
USNS Apalachicola is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year.
Korean Register (KR) will be closely collaborating with HHI and its subsidiary Avikus as well as the Liberian Registry (LISCR) to commercialise autonomous navigation technology.
The four parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at HHI’s headquarters in Ulsan, Korea to collaborate on bringing the Hyundai Intelligent Navigation Assistant System (HiNAS 2.0) to market.
HiNAS 2.0 will be installed on KR classed and LISCR registered ships in July of next year.
HiNAS 2.0 uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise the surrounding environment, such as weather and wave heights, and nearby ships, and then goes beyond providing simple information and controls the vessel’s steering commands and speed in real-time to avoid collision risk. The system uses augmented reality (AR) to guide optimal routes. The solution was developed for increasing fuel efficiency and to ease the operational burden on bridge teams.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) categorises autonomous ship operations into four levels. A ship with automated process and decision support is referred to as the Level 1. Level 2 autonomous operations is described as a remote-controlled ship with seafarers on board. At Level 3, the ship is remotely controlled without any seafarers on board, and with Level 4, the ship is fully autonomous.
Most commercialised autonomous navigation systems are currently at Level 1, but HiNAS 2.0 is aiming to be the most advanced solution of the existing autonomous navigation systems at Level 2.
“We are focusing on research and development for autonomous navigation, and some of our technologies have already been commercialised, taking the lead in the global market. As a pioneer in the autonomous ship sector, we will advance our technologies through various collaborations with other market leaders,” said Won-ho Joo, HHI Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Technical Officer
“This collaboration is quite significant with the participation of different sectors, including a shipyard, an autonomous navigation solution developing company, a Classification Society and a flag registry. Based on the results of the collaboration, we will successfully commercialise the HiNAS 2.0 and enhance the safety and economic operation of ships,” explained Do-hyeong Lim, Avikus CEO.
Yara Marine builds on its current Vessel Optimization portfolio by launching the AI-powered ship operation support system Route Pilot AI to enable optimal energy efficiency for upcoming voyages.
Yara Marine Technologies (Yara Marine) launches Route Pilot AI, a cloud-based AI-powered ship operation support system that utilizes high-frequency data to calculate the most advantageous propulsion settings for upcoming voyages. The AI, which uses digital twin modelling to simulate operational parameters, will enable ship and shore-based personnel to calculate optimal working parameters to lower fuel consumption and realize the most energy-efficient voyage.
Mikael Laurin, Head of Business Line Vessel Optimization at Yara Marine, said: “Upcoming EEXI and CII regulations will require ship-owners and operators to implement immediate, future-proof solutions that ensure long-term operational efficiency and reduced emissions. The need is further exacerbated by other developments within the industry, such as rising costs, fuel shortages, and the ongoing crewing crisis. At Yara Marine, we believe that a data and automation system like Route Pilot AI offers an effective and flexible solution that allows operators to remain competitive and advance the industry’s transition to Net Zero.”
Route Pilot AI builds on Yara Marine’s current propulsion optimization solution FuelOpt, which enables real-time execution of energy-efficient voyages, as well as the associated performance management system Fleet Analytics, which is used to analyze and define best practices over time. The AI-powered system’s digital twin modelling draws on existing vessel data from previous voyages and historical sea conditions. These data are used to assess forecasted environmental conditions and calculate peak operational parameters for the vessel and route in question when carrying out the same transport work. Additionally, by employing machine learning, the system improves the AI-model’s fuel optimization capabilities with each new voyage.
Digital twin modelling and the use of AI also enable effective fleet management and improves communication between vessels and shore teams. When using Route Pilot AI, alternative routes can be assessed and compared in its voyage forecast performance system. Ship-owners and operators have access to enhanced decision-making as the AI compares a variety of estimated times of arrival and departure and evalutes which vessel in their fleet would be most suitable for the specific route in question. As a result, it sets smarter, more efficient operational parameters to optimize fuel consumption. These optimized parameters are then carried out by the FuelOpt system which adjusts propulsion while accounting for changing internal and external surroundings.
Route Pilot AI can be used to optimize voyages for vessels across entire fleets.
Route Pilot AI’s ability to reliably calculate arrival times – while optimizing fuel consumption – is a perfect complement to just-in-time arrival strategies. The system can be used to calculate virtual arrival times as well as the actual expected ETA under the forecasted weather conditions and with maximum fuel efficiency.
Jan Thore Foss, Head of Ship Management and Newbuilding at UECC, said: “We are proud to be an early adopter of Route Pilot AI. This innovative system is a great example of how integrated digital and automated systems can offer insights that enable enhanced decision-making. Time and cost-effective measures will always be a key priority for this industry, and so there are real benefits to be had from greater energy efficiency and smoother operations across voyages.”
A harbor tug has become the first vessel to be verified for autonomous collision avoidance in the Port of Singapore as the shipping industry’s push towards self-driving technology continues to advance.
ABB worked in collaboration with Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) on the project. The successful sea trials involved the Keppel Smit Towage tug Maju 510 which was used to verify autonomous collision avoidance capabilities of ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot technology in the Port of Singapore.
In what is said to be an industry-first, the Maju 510 becomes the first vessel in the world to receive Autonomous and Remote-Control Navigation Notation from international classification society ABS and the first Singapore-flagged vessel to receive the Smart (Autonomous) Notation from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
Maju 510 is already notable because it was the first to receive ABS Remote-Control Navigation Notation following initial remote operation trials at the Port of Singapore in April 2021. These latest trials verified the next level of autonomy by demonstrating automated situational awareness, collision avoidance, and maneuvering control provided by ABB technology.
During the trials, the 32-meter-long harbor tug demonstrated its ability to autonomously avoid collisions in various scenarios, such as when two other vessels approach simultaneously on colliding paths and when a nearby vessel behaves erratically. The trials were supervised by an onboard tug master.
“I had the pleasure of being aboard Maju 510 during the collision avoidance trials and experiencing how smoothly the tug performed in autonomous mode,” said Romi Kaushal, Managing Director, Keppel Smit Towage. “What I found particularly impressive was how the digital system identified one or several risks in the tug’s planned path and responded to set the vessel on a new, safer course. The vessel performed as if it was operated by an experienced tug master.”
In an earlier successful demonstration of ABB’s autonomous technology, the ice-class passenger ferry Suomenlinna II was remotely piloted through the Helsinki harbor using the same ABB technology used by the Maju 510.
ABB says autonomous navigation technology can crews to focus on the overall situation rather than on performing specific maneuvers, while also optimizing maneuvering to help prevent accidents, enhance productivity and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
“We are proud to build on our collaboration with Keppel Offshore & Marine and move yet another step closer to making autonomous tugboat operations a reality,” said Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports. “Our autonomous solutions are designed to support the crew in performing their duties as safely and efficiently as possible. The same technology can be applied to a variety of vessel types including wind turbine installation vessels, cruise ships and ferries.”
In spring, a little more than 400 years after the original Mayflower set sail across the Atlantic Ocean with roughly thirty crew members and one hundred pilgrims, the historic ship’s successor launched westward from Plymouth, England. This modern voyage involved fewer passengers. Zero, in fact.
When the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, propelled primarily by renewable sources, reached the shore of North America roughly six weeks after setting off, it became the first fully autonomous commercial vessel to complete a transatlantic crossing. “If anything, the Mayflower shows there is still space for exploration,” says Brett Phaneuf, whose marine research nonprofit, ProMare, managed the initiative, with support from IBM. Instead of a weathered captain, it was a complex system of sensors, cameras, and artificial-intelligence commands that navigated the 50-foot-long trimaran. And where crew members might have slept, eaten, and used the facilities, a cargo bay housed 1,500 pounds of scientific gear. The venture represents a full reimagining of how a ship functions, propels itself through the water, and stores freight.
Across the world, the autonomous revolution has taken to the high seas, quietly surpassing better-known efforts on land. Along the Gulf Coast, remote-controlled tugboats are pushing oil barges. In Norway, the world’s first fully electric self-propelled container ship will soon be transporting fertilizer through the fjords with only a skeleton crew (and eventually none at all). A Japanese freight company recently sent a 313-foot uncrewed vessel through 236 miles of crowded coastal waters. The Mikage even docked itself, with the aid of drones, at its final destination. Digitization is revolutionizing maritime operations, creating new opportunities for both transoceanic and domestic shipping that could reduce human risk, environmental harm, and logistical inefficiencies. Perhaps even more significant, experts say, these developments are prompting companies and governments to rethink how they transport goods and deliver services. “We’re changing how we interact with and benefit from our waterways,” says Moran David, chief commercial officer of Boston-based Sea Machines, which is building autonomous command-and-control technology as well as long-range computer-vision programs.
As in many other areas of society, the last few years have hit fast-forward on advancements in maritime enterprise. Market-research firm Thetius forecasts that the global maritime digital-technology industry will be worth $345 billion by the end of the decade. Demand for innovation is largely a response to supply-chain vulnerabilities and labor shortages due to the pandemic, war in Europe, and recent climate-related disasters. During lockdowns, crews have sometimes been stuck at sea for up to a year, with ports unable to process freight when workers became ill. Meanwhile, the pool of qualified seafarers has been shrinking rapidly. The solutions to each of these issues are multifaceted, but relying more on water transportation and automation will be key to building supply-chain resiliency and efficiency.
Of course, with new technology comes new risks—and new regulations. “Autonomous shipping is not about technology anymore; it’s a matter of willingness,” says Phaneuf. Just as self-driving cars have faced many setbacks, self-driving seaborne craft are likely to encounter their own snags. For instance, how do you resolve gaps in satellite connectivity in the middle of the ocean? Who is liable in the event of an accident? Will piracy migrate from attacks on the open seas to hacking? The biggest threat is the water itself. Unlike roadways, which are highly structured grids, the ocean is inherently corrosive and always changing in unpredictable ways. For autonomous shipping to expand from limited applications to ubiquity will require significant political and commercial investment.
Experts say the immediate future of shipping innovation will likely follow a trajectory similar to that of vehicles. First, there will be driver-assisted applications. Then remote-controlled coastal uses, followed by remote-controlled ocean crossings, and, eventually, fully autonomous ocean crossings. “It’s going to be a very, very slow adoption pathway,” says Ken Bloom, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Global Infrastructure Construction and Services practice. “We’ll start by supplying oil rigs with bananas and picking up their dirty laundry. Slowly, the use cases will broaden and get riskier and more complex. Right now, we’re at the end of the beginning.”
Like cars and airplanes, most ships already have some form of autopilot that can be relied upon when it’s smooth sailing. Instead of activating the brakes, these systems serve as alerts. And for the near term, even outfits with the capability to be fully autonomous will mostly continue relying on skeleton crews. Bloom predicts the technology will first be deployed in workboats and smaller vessels before spreading to large merchant ships, which are more complex to maneuver.
So what will these robot ships of the future look like? They will be steered by onboard weather stations that collect real-time meteorological data, sensors that observe the movement of waves, radar that scans the horizon, and collision-avoidance systems that rely on algorithms based on the International Maritime Organization’s guidelines for preventing crashes. All this information will help Captain AI make decisions, be it how to navigate a hurricane or avoid hitting a kayaker. Should any of these onboard systems fail, the craft can be remotely controlled or an onboard officer can hit the manual-override button.
The maritime industry is among the most dangerous of all industries, with seafarer death rates more than 20 times higher than those of onshore workers. Sailors are often required to undertake high-risk tasks, from oil-spill cleanup to search-and-rescue operations to underwater hull inspections. AI can take over such perilous jobs, and even make the mundane ones safer. Studies show that human error is responsible for around 70 percent of maritime accidents. “Automation doesn’t get tired, or drunk, or emotional,” says Pia Meling, vice president of sales and marketing at Massterly, a full-service autonomous-shipping venture. In this new construct, humans will essentially back up computers.
While captains do spend some time scanning the horizon from the bridge, much of their time is spent doing office work and analyzing weather, fuel, and other reports to make real-time decisions. With a hybrid approach, captains will oversee operations from shore, allowing them to delegate certain tasks and manage multiple vessels at one time. That has the added benefit of allowing for more inclusivity in the labor force. Parents or those with physical disabilities would no longer be excluded from doing the job. At the same time, the small crew that is onboard will be able to focus on a new variety of tasks. “Autonomous solutions are a tool for the mariner,” says David at Sea Machines. “It’s offering a reprieve from doing the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks and allowing the mariner to focus on more important tasks that can only be done by humans.”
The seafarer’s life is not an easy one, and the industry is facing a recruitment crisis. In Japan, for instance, roughly 40 percent of the nation’s domestic-tanker workforce is 55 years or older, according to a recent survey. As one generation retires, the next has not stepped up to replace it. Developing the skills needed to safely navigate the open waters can take decades. Automation allows engineers to encode the wisdom and expertise of veterans, while creating the technological jobs that appeal to younger generations. Shipping academies are already reimagining their training programs for an automated future.
Even as this changing of the guard takes place, recent environmental initiatives have compelled the industry to reduce emissions. Huge container ships are testing alternative fuel types which require significant financial investment in new systems and worker training. The hybrid-crew model allows companies to save money on labor and better use highly specialized workers, such as engineers, by keeping them docked on land. And because autonomous ships can be redesigned with more space for cargo instead of humans, “they’re intrinsically green things,” Phaneuf says. “Saving 10 percent [of emissions] from container ships is like erasing cities from earth.”
Robo-shipping is a matter of optimization. In order to control costs, emissions, and logistics, more and more cargo owners are opting to become shipowners. Eventually that will lead to economies of scale at fleet and company levels. Experts say it will also open a new market, as freight haulers migrate from land to water.
Traditionally, domestic transportation has been dominated by trucking, which is cheaper but also has drawbacks, such as traffic, crumbling road infrastructure, and a skill shortage. In Norway, it’s not only the fertilizer company that’s moving its operations to the water: soon the country’s largest grocer will begin delivering 16 electric supply trucks from a warehouse on one side of Oslo’s main fjord to a distribution site on the other. “If we design different vessels with more cargo room and reduced operating costs, then all of a sudden those vessels become competitive to trucks,” Meling says. Nearby, in the Netherlands, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is collaborating with local teams to produce a fleet of autonomous vessels that will be outfitted for household waste removal, logistics movement, and ferry operations.
These are all limited domestic case studies, however. It remains to be seen how the industry will approach oversight globally. The rules of the seas, some of which were written back in the 1800s, are based on having humans at the helm. While the International Maritime Organization is working on its guidelines, different countries and regulatory bodies are likely to issue their own conflicting regulations. One country might allow certain technologies and ban others; another might do the opposite. These potential conflicts are causing some companies to be wary of making significant investments. In some ways, the situation is similar to the quagmire that has kept self-driving cars in permanent beta mode.
Most, if not all, of the experts working to bring autonomous shipping to fruition agree that the greatest impediments are no longer technological; they’re human. But the unanswered questions and unforeseeable obstacles pale in comparison to the possibilities. “We’re seeing a revolution in how humans interact with our waterways that we haven’t seen since we started to cross oceans,” David says. “Autonomy is not a revolution of the future; it’s here.”