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Print 24 comment(s) - last by superstition.. on Mar 3 at 3:01 PM

Crewless ships would be able to carry more cargo and burn less fuel

When we talk about drones, we are typically talking about the unmanned aircraft that are used for surveillance and attack mission by the U.S. military. Currently one in three of the aircraft in the US military is a drone, and that will likely increase over time.
 
Rolls-Royce has its eyes on a new type of drone that may be able to cut the cost of shipping goods on massive container ships significantly. The Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Blue Ocean development team is working on a next generation drone ship that needs no human crew. The drone ships are controlled using a 360-degree VR simulation of the bridge on a ship.
 
The team believes that eventually the captain of a ship will use this VR system to control his giant vessel as it slips through the ocean waters. The drone ships would be much cheaper to operate according to the group. They say that the crew aboard a ship costs roughly $3,299 per day and accounts for 44% of the total operating expense of a large container ship.

 
However, not everyone in the shipping industry is behind the plan. Tor Scensen, CEO of maritime for DNV GL, a company that certifies vessels to safety standards said, "I don’t think personally that there’s a huge cost-benefit in unmanned ships today, but technologically it’s possible. My prediction is that it’s not coming in the foreseeable future.”
 
The International Transport Workers Federation is a union that represents about 600,000 ship workers and it is of course opposed to drone ships. “It cannot and will never replace the eyes, ears and thought processes of professional seafarers,” added Dave Heindel, chairman of the ITF’s seafarers’ section in London. “The human element is one of the first lines of defense in the event of machinery failure and the kind of unexpected and sudden changes of conditions in which the world’s seas specialize. The dangers posed to the environment by unmanned vessels are too easily imagined.”
 
The drone ships will use redundant systems like aircraft and sensors for navigation and avoiding dangers in the water ahead. They would replace life support systems -- like HVAC and sewage -- to haul more cargo. With less gear to haul around, the lighter ships would also burn less fuel.

Source: Bloomberg



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By xenol on 2/27/2014 12:19:34 PM , Rating: 1
The only thing you could really make unmanned is the navigation system... which most modern ships I hear are these days.

Ships are out longer away from any kind of service station, they need at least a skeleton crew to keep the "engine oiled" and something of a small security detachment to deter would-be pirates and thieves from looting the thing.

Even unmanned aerial drones, while they can be autonomous, have someone at a console to ensure things are going smoothly. And they can be, sans the operator, completely unmanned because they only go out for less than a days worth of time on sortie.




By Nutzo on 2/27/2014 4:48:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
something of a small security detachment to deter would-be pirates and thieves from looting the thing.


Pirate generally don't loot the ship, they hold the crew hostage for a cash payout. No Crew=No cash payout.

These ships could be setup to make it difficult for anyone to get on board to loot them. No need to leave room for the crew to walk around.


By DougF on 2/27/2014 4:56:05 PM , Rating: 1
No need to get on board, just drive up to the side, hack the nav system into thinking your port is it's destination, and voila, you have a cargo ship at your disposal.


By FaaR on 2/27/2014 6:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, just that, eh? Drive up to it, hack the nav system. So easy a child could have thought of it.

Now, how to "hack the nav system"? I know! You hook up a macbook to it, give the ship a virus. That'll make the shields drop, allowing you to fire the nuke... Crap. Wrong movie!


By geddarkstorm on 2/27/2014 7:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
Or just do what Iran did to capture one of our drones, and spoof the GPS. There are many ways to skin a cat; but as you say, it likely isn't that big a worry.

However, none of this addresses the glaring mechanical/maintenance/storm preparation needs a ship has while out on the water, which requires a crew.


By jihadjoe on 3/1/2014 8:50:09 AM , Rating: 2
As with the attack on the drone, easy if you just want to crash, hard if you actually want to navigate the ship to a specific port (or pirate cave) of choice.


By FaaR on 2/27/2014 6:07:33 PM , Rating: 3
You'd ALWAYS need a crew on a ship, always. Else, what the hell do you do when (not if; WHEN) there is a fire? Engine failure? Hell, blown fuse.

A container vessel worth a billion plus, with hundreds of millions' worth of cargo on it, and some wankers get their panties in a bind over thousands in crew salaries? Jesus. Talk about loss of priorities.

A big ship like that could easily be lost, cargo and all, due to some stupid fault a person with two hands and a brain could have fixed long before it got serious/dangerous.


By HostileEffect on 2/27/2014 11:22:00 PM , Rating: 3
Titanic... two hands and a brain sank it.


By w8gaming on 3/2/2014 9:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
And a lot of non-Titanic that brains have saved. Just because no one wrote about it does not mean these did not happen.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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