Nor-Shipping, the top maritime shipping exhibition and conference in the world, drew an incredible global audience to Oslo this past week. This year at the exhibition, discussions focused on advanced technology for very-near-future increased efficiencies and smart shipping, but also jumped ahead to start to plan for autonomous ships and remote fleet navigation. This push for technologically advanced ship design comes with good timing as the IMO continues to strengthen emissions regulations causing ship builders the world over to open designs to great possibilities.
One particularly captivating presentation of this fast-forward came from Wärtsilä, a problem-solving technology company specializing in the marine and energy industries. Released in a video hosted by an animated AI, Wärtsilä proposes that in this century maritime shipping will benefit from:
- Remote-controlled fleets operated by a small crew from a single ship.
- Artificial Intelligence on-board maintenance.
- On-board manufacturing.
- Ships powered by battery, rechargeable during the voyage.
- Underwater shipping.
What once was considered science fiction is in the process of becoming reality. ONE SEA, a collective that includes Wärtsilä, is currently working on making autonomous maritime shipping reality by 2025. To further put that into perspective, autonomous cars are already on roads around the world, and experts predict autonomous taxi services could be available in as few as 3 years. The benefits of autonomous ships are numerous, with expectations on cost-savings and energy efficiency at the forefront. Safety takes priority, for both those on board as well as surrounding vessels, ports, and ecosystems. Ideally, artificial intelligence would calculate the safest routes and detours to decrease dangerous situations and lessen damage. That technology is already well into development.
exactEarth innovation is another indicator that ONE SEA’s goal of autonomous shipping in 8 years is realistic. Much, if not all, of the technology needed for autonomous fleet management exists, the challenges directly ahead are logistics, assembly, energy efficiency, and safety. exactView RT powered by Harris is already in its first phase, with another satellite launch scheduled soon and project completion in 2018. Safety is a top concern for autonomous marine shipping, and our real-time analytics are already on the case. Current exactEarth customers can track every ship within their fleet in international waters, and from anywhere in the world, an important step in remote management. Our precise and up-to-the-minute vessel data can provide key safety information in foul weather, in avoiding MPAs or other environmental concerns, and to navigate away from unknown vessels or unsafe sites as dispatched by law enforcement agencies.
As our CEO, Peter Mabson stated at Nor-Shipping ““We live in a real-time world and we’re deploying a major global real-time maritime data infrastructure. exactView RT provides global, continuous coverage which literally opens up a world of new application possibilities that are limited only by our imagination.”