By MATT O’BRIEN
BOSTON — Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years – but autonomous boats could be just around the pier.
Spurred in part by the car industry’s race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. The first such autonomous ships could be in operation within three years.
One experimental workboat spent this summer dodging tall ships and tankers in Boston Harbor, outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and emblazoned with the words “UNMANNED VESSEL” across its aluminum hull.
Retailers and energy companies lead U.S. stocks a bit higher
There’s no need to spend $999 for a good phone these days
Impossible? Fake meat moves beyond burgers
NASA’s Cassini will vaporize as it plunges into Saturn on Friday
Now this is ridiculous: $782,000 over asking for a house in Sunnyvale
“We’re in full autonomy now,” said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston startup Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel.
“Roger that,” said computer scientist Mohamed Saad Ibn Seddik, as he helped to guide the ship from his laptop on a nearby dock.
The boat still needs human oversight. But some of the world’s biggest maritime firms have committed to designing ships that won’t need any captains or crews — at least not on board.
The ocean is “a wide open space,” said Sea Machines CEO Michael Johnson.
Based out of an East Boston shipyard once used to build powerful wooden clippers, the cutting-edge sailing vessels of the 19th century, his company is hoping to spark a new era of commercial marine innovation that could surpass the development of self-driving cars and trucks.
The startup has signed a deal with an undisclosed company to install the “world’s first autonomy system on a commercial containership,” Johnson said this week. It will be remotely-controlled from land as it travels the North Atlantic. He also plans to sell the technology to companies doing oil spill cleanups and …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Business