While autonomous vehicles are already a stark reality, there has not been much said of ships or aircraft becoming self-sufficient. Rumors are emerging that Rolls-Royce is betting on drone ships becoming commonplace in as little as a decade.
Will there be autonomous cars on the roads, drone ships and planes? Reality could become a science fiction flick quite soon if companies begin to get their way with their research.
Yes, the power systems and defense enterprise bearing the same name is swimming with the idea of autonomous ships, and soon. The reason for the decade holdup seems to be in the regulations arena, rather than technological readiness. The rules that govern the world’s oceans do not currently include guidelines for drone ships…much like an officer of the law would be quite aghast to pull over one of the autonomous Google cars and find the driver seat empty. That is a joke, by the way, because a driver is mandatory for the Google vehicles and an additional passenger to regulate. The car does drive itself, but people are essentially monitoring its maneuvers.
The Piranha Predator drone boat concept by Zyvex Marine emerged in 2012. It featured nano-enhanced carbon. What would a Rolls-Royce powered drone boat look like? Their versions are said to be intended for cargo shipping rather than looks, but it would still be interesting to sea.
Goals of an autonomous shipping industry include reducing fuel needs and working toward eliminating the factor of human error. While all of this sounds interesting, I still cannot imagine indulging on a private yacht vacation on a drone…staffed or not. As the new ideas emerge, the issues will be addressed and smoothed over to reveal the upsides I would imagine. Right now, the idea remains too young to tell what the future will hold.
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