Rolls-Royce drone cargo ships put the captain on dry land

Shane McGlaun - Feb 26, 2014, 4:50am CST
Rolls-Royce drone cargo ships put the captain on dry land

We have heard plenty about autonomous drone aircraft over the years with militaries around the world using these unmanned aircraft every day. We have also heard a lot about autonomous drone cars and trucks that can drive with no human intervention, Google has an entire fleet of autonomous cars in testing. Rolls-Royce has outlined its plan to put drone cargo ships on the oceans around the world.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc is currently working on designs for unmanned cargo ships. The cargo industry is a huge moneymaker and is worth $375 billion. Cargo ships carry 90% of global trade all around the world.

Rolls-Royce’s Blue Ocean development team is currently working with a prototype VR system in an office in Norway that simulates the view a captain would see from the bridge of a ship. The company sees this virtual bridge as the place where a captain will perform duties on dry land rather than on the ocean. The team says that by replacing the bridge, crew quarters and systems required to support the crew, the ships can carry more cargo and cut costs.

Rolls says that the drone ships would be safer and produce less pollution. The ships could be deployed in the Baltic Sea within a decade. Rolls noted that regulatory hurdles and skepticism from the industry will slow the roll out of the drone ships. The crew costs $3299 per day and accounts for 44% of total operating expenses on a large container ship. Removing the crew would help shipping firms earn more profit from each trip.

The ships would use redundant systems, sensors to search for obstacles in the water and would be able to constantly monitor systems to optimize the ship and save money on voyages. Opposition to the drone ship says that it would cost more to outfit these drone ships and worker unions are also opposed saying that sensors can’t replace human eyes and thought processes.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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