Friday, September 12, 2014
Self driving ships
There's a lot of press about self driving cars. Considering Google's involvement it's probably unavoidable. Anything Google does is news.
Self driving ships doesn't get much press, but they have to the potential to take over the sea lanes. Just like self driving cars, safety is one of the issues. 75% of all ship accidents are human caused. No doubt the insurance industries will be supporting the robot ships.
The ships can travel at a slow speed, saving fuel. No need for crews to endure long boring voyages. No need to feed and take care of them either. Space now used for crew can be used to carry cargo instead.
What could go wrong?
Computer glitches. CME's messing up satellite navigation. Pirates boarding unmanned ships. Hackers rerouting ships to new destinations. Ships rigged as giant remote bombs. No more assistance to mariners in trouble at sea. (I'm barely trying here . . . )
In spite of all potential problems, the shipping industry will want to make it happen. The financial savings are too great to ignore.
Personally, I have this image of robot ships churning through polluted seas of oil spills, plastic waste, and dead marine life. Self driving ships have no conscience.