A group in the European Union, that includes engineers from Rolls Royce, is working on a project called the Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence Networks, or MUNIN, that is trying to come up with a way to develop remotely controlled autonomous seafaring ships.
A multi-country group in the European Union, that includes engineers from Rolls Royce, is working on a project called the Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence Networks, or MUNIN, that is trying to develop autonomous ships that can be remotely controlled from the shore.
Stirring up the debate, representatives from Rolls Royce, a giant aerospace and marine corporation, have reportedly called for a “public debate on the switch from crewed cargo vessels to autonomous ships as part of a wider drive by industry to use advanced automation technology.”
There are several potential benefits to having an unmanned vessel, like a reduction in operating costs for food and living quarters for the crew, and fewer accidents caused by human error.
The technology to make this possible is still in development, but the other obstacles that the MUNIN project faces are legal.
The United States hasn’t ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that most of the rest of the world operates under, so there are complications regarding international and territorial waters when there is no one physically aboard a ship making transit.
Laws regarding seafaring are complicated and making a major change in modes of operation would also call for a change in the laws.