Friday, May 10, 2019

"Some Companies Working on Autonomous Boats"

Well, there's Norway's Kongsberg which surprisingly is not mentioned in this article. Surprising because Kongsberg is not just working on big dreams like Yara's Birkeland but on smaller workboats which they are selling now. But that's a post for another day.
Today, the headline story from Nanalyze:
If you’ve ever taken a cruise, you know that it’s nothing like The Love Boat, a TV series from the 1970s and 1980s where people with bad hair hook up and get sunburned while sipping overpriced cocktails. OK, maybe the show was exactly like going on a real cruise. (We always thought it was amazing that the S.S. Pacific Princess never ran aground while Capt. Stubing was shtupping one of the passengers.) As we recently pointed out in an article about how artificial intelligence is being used to avoid collisions at sea, maritime mishaps are a real problem, with more than 250 ships lost and 600 people killed over a five-year period. Safety is certainly one reason why we will probably see autonomous boats on the high seas even before autonomous vehicles hit the road en masse.

A Boatload of Money
It’s also about the money: More than 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea, despite the fact that you get 10 deliveries a day from Amazon. The U.S. economy is particularly reliant on the ocean, accounting for more than $352 billion in GDP and 3.1 million jobs, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2016, the U.S. maritime transportation system carried $1.5 trillion of cargo through U.S. seaports to and from international trading partners, NOAA said. Autonomous boats will help companies save fuel and increase tonnage by optimizing navigational routes, Motherboard reported. While we predicted before that drone cargo ships could hit the waves as early as 2025, autonomous boats may become common even sooner.

Such vessels could become another cog in the economic machine for smart cities where canals and waterways are part of the transportation infrastructure, such as Amsterdam, Bangkok, and Venice. Researchers at MIT, for instance, are designing 3D printed autonomous boats that can self-assemble into different structures such as floating bridges or even a temporary stage for a Phish concert. Or they could be configured to support city services such as waste management or passenger transport (hopefully on different boats). Such robotic ships might help reduce vehicle traffic, with the capability of operating 24/7. Here’s a look at the rub-a-dub-dub model from MIT:

The research is part of a broader initiative called Roboat based in the Netherlands, a country that is already a near-utopia thanks to the fact that it has more bicycles than people, not to mention shops that sell both coffee and weed together.

Full Steam Ahead
Meanwhile, companies and startups are investing and developing aggressively in AI technologies like computer vision, as well as advanced sensor systems such as LiDAR and other high-definition perception systems like those being developed for self-driving cars. Another piece to the puzzle will be communications systems, including satellite networks dedicated to maritime transportation.
Rolls Royce (LN:RR) is probably one of the better-known names developing autonomous boat technology, something we first brought to your attention about three years ago in our drone cargo ship article. More recently, the luxury car manufacturer has partnered with Intel (INTC) for what it calls its intelligence shipping platform, which uses AI and edge computing to manage navigation, obstacle detection, and communications. In December, Rolls Royce completed sea trials of an autonomous ferry in Finland. The entire operation was completed without human intervention, including autonomously docking the ship, which automatically alters speed and course as it approaches the quay....MUCH MORE
February 2019 
Shipping: "Electric Container Ships Are Stuck on the Horizon"—Vaclav Smil
February 2019
Shipping: "UK Department of Transport recommends launch of ammonia / hydrogen powered vessels within 5-15 years"
January 2019
Shipping: Artificial Intelligence Is About To Take The Helm Away From Humans
December 2018 
Norway's Samskip To Develop Autonomous, Zero-emissions Container Ships
October 2018 
"Rolls-Royce, Intel Launch Autonomous Ship Collaboration"
July 2018
"Rolls-Royce to sell commercial marine business for £500m to Norway's Kongsberg"
May 2018
Rolls-Royce and AXA Partner on Risk Management Products for Autonomous Shipping 
Following just a half-step behind the technologists are the insurance salesmen.    
April 2018
"World’s First Autonomous Shipping Company Established in Norway"
We've been watching this one for a while as it ticks a few of the boxes:

1. Autonomous
2. Electric
3. Shipping
4. Fertilizer
5. Kristian Birkeland
Our hero
"He also co-founded Norsk Hydro and got his picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone Norway's 200 kr banknote:

The note became invalid at the end of last year and the old boy was replaced by a cod and a herring...."

September 2017
Shipping: "Value of Autonomy Questioned"
July 2017
"Norway Takes Lead in Race to Build Autonomous Cargo Ships"
...Shipping executives say autonomous vessels will be popular for short sea routes, but doubt they will replace oceangoing ships that move thousands of containers across continents with an average crew size of around 25.

“It’s not a matter of technology, which is already there, but a business case,” said Lars Jensen, chief executive of SeaIntelligence Consulting in Copenhagen. “Autonomous ships are expensive to begin with, and have to be built very robust, because if they break down, the cost of getting a team to fix them it in the middle of the ocean will be very high.”...  
January 2017
"Forget Autonomous Cars—Autonomous Ships Are Almost Here"
This is a bit of an infomercial for Rolls-Royce but still the best generalist overview currently available.
From the brainiacs at IEEE Spectrum:
If Rolls-Royce has its way, commercial vessels will soon have no crew on board
July 2016
Autonomy: "Rolls-Royce’s cargo ship of the future requires no onboard crew"

And many more, use the 'search blog' box if interested.