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14 June, 2024
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Future ships to navigate seas without crews

Remote-controlled boats redefine maritime exploration


In what seems like a scene from science fiction, the future of ocean exploration is unfolding before our eyes. As BBC reports, a colossal lime-green vessel navigating a Norwegian fjord isn't just any ordinary ship; it's a glimpse into the era of unmanned maritime exploration.

Developed by Ocean Infinity (OI), this vessel, part of OI's "Armada" fleet, is equipped with cutting-edge technology: cameras, microphones, radars, GPS, and satellite communications, transforming it into a robotic marvel. With only 16 crew members aboard a 78m ship, compared to the usual 40 or 50, OI is pioneering remote operations from a control center in Southampton.

Autonomy and robotics are reshaping maritime transport globally. From Norway's electric container ships to Belgium and Japan's autonomous ferries, and China's unmanned container ships, the advantages are clear: reduced crew means smaller ships, less fuel consumption, and a smaller carbon footprint.

However, challenges remain. Rudy Negenborn from Delft University acknowledges the progress in autopilot technology but highlights the complexities of interacting with other vessels and unpredictable weather conditions.

Sea-Kit International is pushing boundaries with crewless boats, such as Vaquita, deployed to explore hazardous areas like Tonga's active underwater volcano. These vessels, controlled from land, promise safer operations and a shift in the nature of maritime work.

Yet, questions linger about cybersecurity, system reliability, and regulatory frameworks. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) aims to address these concerns with voluntary codes by 2028, potentially reshaping the role of captains and officers in remote-controlled vessels.

Despite the challenges, the maritime industry is poised for transformation. As Ocean Infinity's Captain Simon Macaulay envisions, remote-controlled vessels could become the norm, signaling a new era in maritime exploration and innovation.

[With information sourced from BBC]

Cyprus  |  vessels  |  robots  |  technology  |  shipping  |  future

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