Autonomous road vehicles have been grabbing headlines as the technology advances and increasing numbers of manufacturers develop prototype technologies. But quietly, other industries have also been making strides towards autonomy including the maritime sector.
In the Marine Autonomous Next-gen Transport Application (MANTA) project we looked at the challenges and opportunities presented by combining autonomous technology with water based transport for local travel.
Autonomous and unmanned vessels have been in use for a number of years, to perform operations where having an on-board crew could limit those operations. Examples include extended oceanographic surveying missions either on the surface or sub-surface or for deployment in military operations.
Similarly, many marine voyages cross vast oceans which can last weeks at a time, and here increasingly sophisticated automated control systems are supporting crews on voyages thereby reducing the total numbers of crew required.