Japan has announced plans to launch self-driving cargo vessels by 2025 that will use artificial intelligence to navigate the ocean.
The ships would use software and algorithms to gather weather data and other information to program the safest, shortest, and most fuel-efficient route to their destinations, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported.
Onboard malfunctions and other potential problems also would be predicted by the ships, which could help reduce accidents.
The shippers Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen will split the costs of the venture and share expertise. The unmanned ships are expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars but may be able to cut the current 2,000 maritime accidents per year in half, Nikkei reported.
Rolls Royce also is developing unmanned ship technology and expects to have remote control ships operational by 2020, with autonomous, unmanned ships in operation by 2035, The Guardian reported.
Additionally, Norway is developing a ship that can autonomously travel between three ports within its boundaries; it is expected to launch next year. The ship will be manned at first but is expected to become fully autonomous in 2019, The Guardian reported.
Japan hopes to eventually have as many as 250 autonomous ships on the ocean to boost its share of the global shipbuilding market, The Guardian reported.
Similar technology is already being used in the U.S. Navy, which last year launched an experimental self-driving warship, the Sea Hunter, to search for enemy submarines. The warship can sail two to three months at a time without a crew or anyone controlling it.
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