Tag: automation

An April 12 article in the Maritime Executive reports on a Rolls Royce statement that robot ships will be trading by 2020.

 

Apparently, through the Rolls-Royce led Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), researchers suggested that engineering hurdles would not be major obstacle. There is no doubt that if engineering hurdles refer to hardware, that autonomous ships should be easier than autonomous aircraft or cars. A ship floats, and all it needs is a reliable means of propulsion to get where it needs to go using an autopilot and GPS.

 

In many ways the technology is already installed in ships and can be modified from off the shelf equipment even with inexpensive equipment used in recreational vessels.

 

If one wants to add rules of the road and accident avoidance one can add ARPA style radar and some programming, and maybe IR or LIDAR and to a large extent things are quite doable. But are these the actual engineering hurdles?

 

On a total ship system level, the engineering becomes much fuzzier, and upon closer examination I would argue that a robotic ship system is much more complicated than a robotic airplane or car system.

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Automated driving is central to the Maxi Taxi concept. Although the Maxi Taxi ferry concept does not specifically require full automated driving, the ferry concept, at a minimum, will use automated parking type technology to load and unload the ferries automatically with human drivers on public roads. However, the Maxi Taxi concept will really come into its own with automated driving.

 

Automated driving is probably the most radical component of the Maxi Taxi concept from a consumer point of view.

 

I have been closely following automated driving efforts for over 15 years, and today we are far past the proof of concept phase. As a matter of fact, there are no technological barriers to automated driving and the remaining barriers are related to manufacturing, standardization, and regulatory issues and consumer acceptance.

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