If you’ve ever taken a cruise, you know that it’s nothing like The Love Boat, a TV series from the 1970s and 1980s where people with bad hair hook up and get sunburned while sipping overpriced cocktails. OK, maybe the show was exactly like going on a real cruise. (We always thought it was amazing that the S.S. Pacific Princess never ran aground while Capt.
Stubing was shtupping one of the passengers.) As we recently pointed out in an article about how artificial intelligence is being used to avoid collisions at sea, maritime mishaps are a real problem, with more than 250 ships lost and 600 people killed over a five-year period. Safety is certainly one reason why we will probably see autonomous boats on the high seas even before autonomous vehicles hit the road en masse.
A Boatload of Money
It’s also about the money: More than 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea, despite the fact that you get 10 deliveries a day from Amazon. The U.S. economy is particularly reliant on the ocean, accounting for more than $352 billion in GDP and 3.1 million jobs, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2016, the U.S. maritime transportation system carried $1.5 trillion of cargo through U.S. seaports to and from international trading partners, NOAA said. Autonomous boats will help companies save fuel and increase tonnage by optimizing navigational routes, Motherboard reported. While we predicted before that drone cargo ships could hit the waves as early as 2025, autonomous boats may become common even sooner.
Such vessels could become another cog in the economic machine for smart cities where canals and waterways are part of the transportation infrastructure, such as Amsterdam, Bangkok, and Venice. Researchers at MIT, for instance, are designing 3D printed autonomous boats that can self-assemble into different structures such as floating bridges or even a temporary stage for a Phish concert. Or they could be configured to support city services such as waste management or passenger transport (hopefully on different boats). Such robotic ships might help reduce vehicle traffic, with the capability of operating 24/7. Here’s a look at the rub-a-dub-dub model from MIT:
Source : Nanalyze