The world loves tales about pirates: Buccaneers who sail to exotic places, search for gold and live in freedom. Of course this is quite a romantic view on the past. But in the future this could all be replaced by robots. Some scientists and companies see a big potential in the sea and therefore they are developing a robotic ship for the future. But how would such a ship even look like?
One initiative which is dedicated to the development of robotic ships is the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA). They have just released their vision of the cargo ship of the future and it’s very promising. According to their plans, the cargo ship will be autonomous, but it will have a robotic crew on board. Equipped with cameras, infrared systems, microphones, radar, sonar, and GPS, the ship will also be eco-friendly. But even though it will function autonomous, there will still be a human supervisor at the shore. The benefits of the robotic ship are obvious: The production costs would be much lower, it doesn’t need space for the crew and it could load more cargo. Human errors could also be reduced.
Unfortunately, there still a lot of work to do until the first robotic ships will be ready. Data from different ships and routes must be collected and answers to the most important questions need to be found. For example, who is liable in the event of an accident? If you are creative and you don’t want to wait until the robotic ships are ready, you can kill some time building your own robot with Tinkerbots.