Will drone ships become a reality anytime soon ?

A report in Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-25/rolls-royce-drone-ships-challenge-375-billion-industry-freight.html) on February 25, 2014, titled “Rolls Royce Drone Ships Challenge $375 Billion Industry”, suggests that drone ships controlled by land based captains can disrupt existing maritime shipping. By eliminating crew quarters and associated services, ships are estimated to be 5% lighter and can carry more containers, thus reducing costs by 12 to 15%. Crew costs, estimated to be 4.4% of operating costs would also be eliminated. Will the economics of drone ships drive the industry to shift to use them within ten years? Given that unmanned ships are currently illegal, and the union of seafarers opposes their use, will regulations and self-interest doom their adoption ? Should the use of drone ships for hazardous cargo be banned to manage risk or are risks lower given that human error due to fatigue, the cause of most shipping accidents, would be eliminated ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
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