Several Japanese shipbuilding and shipping companies have agreed to jointly develop and create a fleet of remotely operated cargo ships by 2025. The technology will be based on the concept of “Internet of things” and aims to integrate the ship’s devices and equipment via the Internet for the collection and analysis of data, building a ship route. It is assumed that the exclusion of the “human” factor will significantly reduce risks and increase the safety of navigation. However, the ships will not be unmanned and will have a minimum crew to maintain technologies and devices, as well as monitor the correct operations.
Among the initiators of the program are Mitsui OSK Lines and Nippon Yusen. In total, the project provides for the construction of a fleet of 250 ships, which will require investments of hundreds of millions of dollars. The goal of the project is to increase Japanese share in the world shipbuilding market.
According to The Guardian, similar developments are already underway in the European Union and Norway, where next year plans to begin operating an autonomous cargo ship on feeder services linking three ports in the south part of the country.
The military already have experience of using autonomous vessels. Last year, the US Navy began testing the unmanned war ship Sea Hunter, which should autonomously track down submarines without returning to the port for months.