Japanese Conglomerate Explores the Concept of AI-driven Self-steering Cargo Ships

It was only a matter of time until new use cases for self-steering vehicles and artificial intelligence were created. A new plan is to create self-navigating cargo ships relying on AI to plot the proper course and avoid collisions. This bold plan comes from a group of Japanese shipping companies who hope to create such a fleet by 2025.

Self-steering Cargo Ships Sound Rather Scary

Consumers and enterprises are still wrapping their heads around self-driving cars right now. This concept sounds so alien and thrilling at the same time. However, it is evident things are slowly turning in favor of such solutions. A few Japanese shipping companies are already looking at the new frontier for autonomous vehicles, which appears to be the ocean. More specifically, these companies want to put together a fleet of self-steering cargo ships by 2025.

By working alongside shipbuilders, the Japanese companies hope to make a lot of progress in a few short years. However, they will need to come up with a software-based system to plot courses, avoid collisions, and navigate troublesome waters. This will be achieved through the use of artificial intelligence. Moreover, this solution should be capable of predicting malfunctions and improve the overall efficiency of these nautical vehicles.

It sounds rather scary to think of huge cargo ships being steered by an artificial intelligence. Although this technology has been quite interesting to keep an eye on, it seems there is still a lot of work to be done. This is especially true when combining it with vehicles capable of steering themselves. Any boat getting hit by a cargo ship will sink, and multiple lives could be lost in the process. Avoiding such disasters is the number one priority, to say the least.

Additionally, creating short, safe, and fuel-efficient routes will be another major challenge to overcome. This fleet of self-steering cargo ships will need to take weather conditions into account at all times. This will be quite a steep learning process, as the seas and oceans have a way of putting obstacles in one’s path at unexpected intervals. There is a lot more to worry about for cargo ships than just weather conditions, albeit they will influence the decision-making process quite a bit.

So far, all of the participating companies have agreed to share the costs of this joint venture. They will also share all of their expertise and knowledge with one another to advance this solution. Rest assured the price tag for this venture is in the hundreds of millions of US Dollars. Considering the group aims to equip 250 ships with this new technology, the costs will mount rather quickly.  If this venture pays off, those costs could be recouped pretty quickly, though.

It is worth mentioning self-steering cargo ships are being explored by other entities around the world as well. Rolls Royce for example, is working on a similar technology. Other companies are thinking along the lines of flying unmanned drones around oceans to haul and transport cargo. This is quite an interesting and competitive market, to say the least. We can only hope to see this “smart ships” venture receive a positive ending.

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