The Future Of Shipping Industry | AI Enabled
Driverless cars and drones delivering packages at the doorstep are the norms today. In fact, shipping is the easiest mode of transport that can be made for unmanned operation. In the days of Alexander and Ceasar ships were built by men on their journey. Ships could be repaired while at sea. During the days of steamships, any damage to the ship could be repaired a sea. For this purpose, ships used to carry a large crew. During the last century, crew wages became the most expensive part of shipping cost. It became cheaper to tow the ship to a port and then carry out repair instead of carrying a large crew and repair at sea. At present, carrying no crew can save a large proportion of shipping costs. Experiments were going on in Norway for a long time for an Autonomous ship. Recently they have successfully tested a model that can be operated from shore. This ship need not carry any crew at sea. Sixty percent of the sea miles traveled are in the open sea where there are few ships to encounter. Anti-collision equipment is already available. The crew is required only in the port. The crew can board the ship at the fairway buoy. The crew is also required during pilot age or transit through canals or locks. The quantum of goods transported through ships is unlikely to come down.
The only worry at present is the safety of the ship not through a collision or bad weather but by hijacking by cybercriminals. They can hijack the ship at sea and ask for ransom. Or they can take over the ship and take to a port of their choice and steal the cargo.
There is going to be a huge saving in ship construction. There is no need for crew quarters, galley and safety boats. The cost of the ships will come down. The cost of ships operation will come down. The cost of insurance also will come down. The cost of entire shipping will come down and this will eventually benefit the consumers.
At the end of WW II unmanned vessels were designed for mine-sweeping operations. The vessels were controlled remotely from a nearby vessel. The purposes of the vessels were to save human life from dangerous operations such as minesweeping. The purpose of automation in commercial shipping is to reduce cost to the consumer. The cost can be reduced for shipbuilding, ship operation and marine insurance.
Sail drones were invented by Richard Jenkins a British engineer. It has got a trimaran hull and sails plus solar panels. Such vessels are used for weather monitoring navigational guidance. They are also used for hydrographic survey and military target practice.
Unmanned vessels were recently used to locate lost aircraft.