Not yet, but soon…
Parts of the Singapore MRT have driverless like the line that goes to Vivo City, been on it, you can sit at the front like the shuttle between the airport terminals
Think of how much time is spent on the bridge where you are in open sea, no ships. That could be run from shore with cameras and a radar/ais link up.
Same as aircraft once out of radar control they just fly till the ground says you can alter or a flight plan has a waypoint in it, could easily be done from the ground.
What happens with aircraft, the ground controllers hand over to another area which is not necessarily a country boundary.
All but two of the MRT lines in Singapore are driverless. Those two are the oldest line, the East West Line and the North South Line, both of which are having their operating system upgraded at the moment.
Even those line are actually operated by computers, but they used to have an Operator who opened and closed the doors but little else.
Come with me for a ride on the Downtown Line 2 from Newton to Stevens station:
Now the question is: What drives them?
Is the system remote controlled with an off-site human in full control from a control room monitoring with cameras? (The Wizard of Oz)
Is the system partly automated with a human issuing general commands such as ‘proceed to next station.’ (Like an elevator.)
Is it fully automated with a human ready to take remote control in an emergency? (Autopilot.)
Is the system autonomous with no human anywhere in control, with the system making every decision including what to do in an emergency. (HAL)
This matters because the first three have been possible with ships. There would be no need for a bridge, galley or staterooms yet no one has bothered to try it.
The last one is only now becoming possible but for ships will require a large investment in buying lawmakers and brainwashing the public. This one is your dream. It’s also the one with the worst profit differential for ships.
That’s okay. I’ve been riding this driverless beauty sense 1977.
All you ever want to know about the MRT system in Singapore:
Here is the SMRT Control Room where all trains are monitored:
There are several Monorail systems in Singapore, but mainly for recreational use,
Sentosa Express, which replaced the earlier Sentosa Monorail:
Jurong Bird Park Panorail, which replaced the earlier Jurong Bird Park Monorail:
There is also driverless Changi Airport Sky Train between terminal:
The LRT System runs on rubber wheels on elevated tracks between blocks in some neighbourhoods:
One interesting fact:
The windows facing close by blocks will be “frosted” to ensure privacy for the residents.
What has all this this got to do with the future of ships??
Nothing directly, but it has to do with what has already been accomplished in other field of transport and, although no directly transferable to shipping, has some relevance.
I got one question; If these barges are going to operate autonomous, why do they need an elevatable bridge??
The mrt has been breaking down and having huge delays on a massive scale lately.
I’d say way more unreliable than Londons old system
I guess when train automation fails its stops
Ship automation fails it drifts…but in that situation you would have lots of backups?
OK then, enough with the trains!
automation is automation and autonomous is autonomous regardless of where it get used just need to adapt the technology to suit the conditions it will be used in.
Space x rocket goes up and comes back to land on a platform that it guides autonomously beneath it in the sea.
Robot vacuum cleaners
Welding robots in car plants
I’ll bet lots of those engineers are wondering why some industries arent already autonomous
DP made deep water drilling possible 50 years ago
Kids can buy a drone now that they can both fly manually or programme to go somewhere and it wont crash.
DP vessels spend $10’s of thousands of dollars for roll pitch and heave sensors yet for $10 you get it in a chip in a drone now.
I wonder if an INS box just went from over 50k to $50?
Every DP installation should have INS.
INS would help the course hacking issue of an autonomous vessel if you are concerned about gps spoofing but that can only be localised so near a port, E-Loran would fix that.
INS has been used extensively in aviation and although it never made a big impact in the maritime environment, it certainly would help with the accuracy of DR plots if GPS signals were to go south.
its used on DP vessels that go to certain parts of Brazil and West coast africa where they have scintillation issues every day
The legal issues with unmanned and autonomous ships of the future explored:
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