My twitter feed was abuzz with news of a Russian spy boat miles off the coast of Connecticut’s US Naval Submarine Base in Groton. This would’ve been a good time to test the Navy’s newest weapon – the Sea Hunter – an autonomous marine defense system (shown below). The concept of an encounter between autonomous and manual vessels waging battle is a good metaphor for future conflicts across industries from defense to energy to shipping.
Marine boat traffic has grown threefold in the past 100 years. As the seas become more crowded the demand for autonomous solutions could not be more relevant from a greater profits to increased safety. Allianz Insurance reported that over 75% of all boating accidents are the fault of human error, often the result of fatigue. Rolls-Royce, a leading manufacturer of automobiles, aerospace engines and maritime solutions estimates that autonomous and remote-controlled vessels on open waters could one day rival their terrestrial counterparts on the speed of adoption and utility.
“Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry” ssaid Mikael Makinen, president of Rolls-Royce’s marine division, in a white paper published by the company. “As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations.”