February 26, 2014


Rolls-Royce looks to plot a course to the future with drone ships (Mark Odell, 12/26/13, Financial Times)

Amazon may have embraced the robotics revolution with the promise of drones making deliveries to your door, but Rolls-Royce has taken it one step further and is predicting the first drone cargo ship will enter service in the next decade.

The UK engineering group, one of the world's largest suppliers to the commercial shipbuilding industry, has called for a public debate on the switch from crewed cargo vessels to autonomous ships as part of a wider drive by industry to use advanced automation technology. [...]

Beyond the savings from not having to pay a crew to run the ship, an unmanned vessel could potentially be lighter and have more space for cargo as marine architects could dispense with the bridge and life-support systems.

The European Commission is already funding an independent study to look at the feasibility of operating a conventional ship without crew on the high seas. The project, dubbed Munin, envisages a vessel sailing autonomously until it gets close to harbour at which point a crew would be put onboard.

Posted by at February 26, 2014 7:09 PM

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