Imagine going on a cruise on board a ship that has no captains to steer it. This will soon become reality with the help of Rolls-Royce.
The engineering company behind some of the most iconic cars ever is set to take over the seas and oceans with a fleet of crewless ships. According to reports, the first of the company's autonomous ships will set sail in 2020.
The existence of autonomous ships is expected to deter shipment costs by as much as 20 percent. That is one reason why a number of companies and bodies are extending their hands to help Rolls-Royce. The Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships, for one, was created by the Maritime Administration of Norway to look into the possibility of having unmanned ships in the waters. Finland has also expressed their willingness to help the engineering giant through DIMECC, described as a "breakthrough-oriented co-creation ecosystem".
Rolls-Royce and the different groups and bodies that it has partnered with are not only focused on the technological side of this endeavor. Daily Mail reported that the involved parties are also developing regulations that would prove important once the crewless ships are ready to hit the waters. According to Rolls-Royce VP of innovation, Oskar Levander, they are currently working on regulations for commercial ships such as ferries and tugboats. Regulations for self-driving cargo ships that travel through international waters will be dealt with afterward. Levander also stressed that the development will focus first on selected countries. These nations will supposedly allow the crewless vessels to operate within their jurisdictions until a time when international regulations are in place.
Autonomous vehicles have hogged the headlines recently with a number of companies dipping their fingers into the industry. Tesla has been one of the industry leaders with its semi-autonomous cars. Car manufacturers such as Subaru, Hyundai, Ford and others are in the process of developing their own self-driving vehicles. Even Apple, Uber and Blackberry have invited themselves to the party.