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Old 10-12-2015, 12:31 PM   #1
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Will Autonomous Ships Make the Seas Safer or Riskier?

Saw this article today: - Your thoughts?

Could autonomous ships make the open seas safer?

Advocates say the technology is in place, but large-scale deployment is still years away

Could autonomous ships make the open seas safer? | The Verge
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:51 PM   #2
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Well, autonomous airplanes will make flying safer so it stands to reason autonomous ships will make the seas safer. Most errors that start the chain of events that result in an accident are made by humans. So it's pretty obvious that removing humans from the process to the greatest degree possible will result in increased safety. The obstacle is not technology. It's public acceptance. But that acceptance will increase with each generation and as it does safety will continue to be enhanced.
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:00 PM   #3
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Perhaps... but I guess my fear is that these large, fast autonomous cargo ships will plow over a lot of smaller vessels (especially at night) without even noticing.

They do this already - but without any human eyes, I wonder if it will increase (or perhaps it will decrease with better sensors for checking in front of the boats).
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:03 PM   #4
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Anytime now I expect one of the so-called "budget" passenger airlines to propose crewless airliners. The technology is here. The U.S. Navy is launching and recovering drones from aircraft carriers, refueling them in-flight, and of course using them to perform combat operations. I get the advantages - no captured pilots, for one thing. Although membership in the Navy's vaunted Tailhook Association may decline!

Can it only be a matter of time before we see adverts for "discount drone service" to Denver, or the like? For a few bucks extra, you'll be able to sit in what used to be the cockpit, enjoying extra legroom (since those pesky rudder pedals can be yanked out).

None for me, thanks. Not that, nor unmanned ships plying the high seas and showing up at their destination ports with no one on board to greet the pilot. Or will harbor pilots be next, for God's sake?

And once we finish eliminating every last skilled job, rendering most workers as low-skill, low-wage cyphers, how many consumers will be left who can afford to buy the latest smart-phone that comes in via a drone container ship?

Sorry, I just don't see this trend ending well. Anyway, I also predict that this thread is destined for the "Off-the-Deep-End" barrel - rightly so!
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:25 PM   #5
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The people designing and creating the autonomous airliners and ships and the transportation environments they operate in will be paid extremely well, so they will be able to afford nice vacations.

How many job openings are there for "pyramid builder" these days? Job needs change as our world evolves. The people resisting things like driverless cars and autonomous planes and ships won't be around all that much longer in the overall scheme of things so the public accepance issue will take care of itself.

The young engineers entering the industry I work in talk about autonomous airliners as though they are the most natural path to take and why would one want to do anything else? In not that many years they will be the ones running the air tansportation industry and making the decisions.

I have to assume the same thing is happening in the marine transportation industry.

While I most likely will not be here to see it become the norm I think the idea is terrific. Humans are great at thinking up new ideas and bringing them to reality but they're crap at operating them. That's where all the mistakes are made be they in vehicles, planes, ships, bicycles, you name it. So the more we can remove humans from the operation phase of a system the better and safer that system will be.

It's been happening in vehicles for decades. All sorts of autonomous systems have been developed and implemented to make driving safer, from seat belts to ABS to traction control to air bags. Now we've reached the point where the thinking is to simply remove humans from having anything to do with the operation of the vehicle at all.

So why not ships? Pilots exist to bring ships safely into a port the ship's crew is not familiar with. So we have humans attempting to keep other humans from making a mistake. Automate the process of marine vessels entering and leaving a port, and ultimately docking and undocking, and the need for mistake-prone humans goes away completely. Safety goes up, costs eventually come down, and this will be reflected in lower consumer costs. It's a win-win-win.
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:51 PM   #6
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if you get in trouble in the open ocean, if your luck holds, it'll likely be a large cargo ship saving your hide. Don't know how that would work out in an unmanned ship.
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:52 PM   #7
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So where does it ultimately end? Are humans too stupid to actually exist with technology? Or without it? Will we all end up as gibberish babbling Jabba the Hud, born with a joystick coming out a port somewhere in the midsection, see what we want of the world through a chip implant in our eyeballs and no need to actually go anywhere or do anything but can experience it virtually? Give me a huge pillow and a nutrient IV and live my life in one spot. Wanderin Star or the fixed point of the North Star?
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:56 PM   #8
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Sorry Blissboat. Guess I just took it off the deep end.
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Old 10-12-2015, 03:17 PM   #9
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Hackers.....cyber terrorist....
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Old 10-12-2015, 03:39 PM   #10
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if you get in trouble in the open ocean, if your luck holds, it'll likely be a large cargo ship saving your hide. Don't know how that would work out in an unmanned ship.
An unmanned vessel will most likely have far better sensors on it than some pairs of human eyes. And it will be receiving vastly more data from weather to everything else than today's ships. So it will probably be far better equipped to "see" and respond to emergencies like this than today's human-guided ships.
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Old 10-12-2015, 03:48 PM   #11
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An unmanned vessel will most likely have far better sensors on it than some pairs of human eyes. And it will be receiving vastly more data from weather to everything else than today's ships. So it will probably be far better equipped to "see" and respond to emergencies like this than today's human-guided ships.
Ok, I see where there will still be a human at the "helm" so to speak, although not on scene. Ever done a rescue? Not sure how the auto-bot ship would handle that?

Couple of interesting points from the article:

Quote:
There's also the question of whether the crewless ships of the future would be safeguarded against hackers and other cyberattacks.
As I mentioned above.
While they seem to think they have it figured out, I would be willing to bet that there's still some 3rd world hacker can make their way through.

Let's take a tanker full of anhydrous ammonia, petroleum, or other dangerous cargo, and turn it toward a major port. There's a thought.
Maybe a self destruct command ashore?

Or take command of the vessel, load it with what you want and send it on it's way back home.

The upside is, our "manned" Navy can still blow it all to hell and not have to worry about sacrificing human lives.

Quote:
Levander points out that humans will likely never be completely divorced from shipping operations. Companies would still need highly skilled captains to helm the control room, and cruise ships or vessels carrying dangerous cargo would likely keep a small crew onboard. And there are always unforeseen circumstances that will require humans to make quick decisions
.

Well at least that's a start.

And there's always the human factor.
While automation is great, you can't fix stupid!
As long as we can still get in the way, we will. Pretty much the same issues they'll run into with cars.

Quote:
Rolls-Royce believes the technology's benefits will eventually push the industry forward. Shipowners would spend less to maintain their crews, and the lower weight resulting from the elimination of crew bunks, latrines, and kitchens would bring down fuel costs.
Seriously?
Latrines, kitchens and bunks?

Quote:
according to a study from the insurance group Allianz. Workers wouldn't be at risk of attacks from pirates, and instead of spending months at sea, they could live at home and commute to port to service incoming ships
Ah yes, the insurance industry again.....so, with the newer, less costly to operate, safer, and less exposure to payouts, will the insurance rates go down???

I'm making light of the possibilities of course, but I'm not convinced that unmanned ships, any more than autonomous cars or planes, are the safest bet over all. Guess time will tell.

I probably won't be around to see it anyway
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:18 PM   #12
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Good luck with that. What happens when things break? Or a fire? Or pirates?
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:38 PM   #13
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Marin,
I know that I am one of the people who must die off to let the world progress as there is no way I would board a plane without a pilot aboard. I think back to a few years ago when the plane left New York, hit a flock of birds lost both engines, the pilot decided the best action would be to land in the river. Everyone survived. I doubt that would have been the case if it was an automated flight. There is no way a computer can think like a human (that may be a good thing)and there is no way a computer programmer can program for every conceivable problem. They can't even update my phone without screwing it up. On a non eventful flight a computer has a much better attention span than a human, but when everything goes wrong I want an experienced human in control and on the plane with me, not sitting in a cubicle somewhere. I want his/her life to be affected by the decisions he/she makes.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:41 PM   #14
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...but when everything goes wrong I want an experienced human in control and on the plane with me, not sitting in a cubicle somewhere. I want his/her life to be affected by the decisions he/she makes.
Amen!!
I'm right there witch ya!
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Old 10-12-2015, 05:07 PM   #15
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The problem is that you all are looking at the issue through your own, rapidly becoming outated eyes. You are seeing problems that your generation doesnt know how to solve because it lacks the vision or imagination as to how future generations will see these same things and figure out how to solve them. History is filled with examples of this. The only reason we are where we are today is because of people who had vision and refused to be talked out of it by people who didn't.

I remember when I was a little kid and adults would be reading the comics in the paper and laughing at how ridiculous and impossible detective Dick Tracy's "two way wrist radio" and other gizmos were.

I suspect that if these adults were still alive today they'd feel pretty foolish thinking back to their claims about Dick Tracy's wrist radio.

One of Boeing's most influential engineers once described in an interview I did with him the people in this industry he referred to as the "Yeah, Buts." These are the people, he said, whose reaction to visionary or seemingly out of the box concepts is always, "Yeah, but" and then they go on to describe all the reasons the concept will never work.

Fortunately, he said, there will always be people who refuse to accept the lmitations of the Yeah, Buts.
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Old 10-12-2015, 05:51 PM   #16
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Yeah you have some valid points, but (intentional). Vision and change is fine for some things, like gizzmos. It took me until 2 years ago to accept that a smart phone and texting would be part of my life. Gizzmos and most like technology are a convenience thing. Automated aircraft with 200 to 300 souls aboard is different in my book. Behind the "yeah, but" usually lies some experience. I could accept automated ships long before automated aircraft. Things on a ship do not happen near as fast as on a plane. In 30 years or so it may be the norm but I won't be around then. If it happens in 10 years I will just choose not to fly.

The thing about young people being able to accept things like this more easily I think may be to lack of life experiences. I am not saying that is bad. Sometimes we let our past hinder our future. I guess there has to be a balance, but some automation tips the scale too far.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:11 PM   #17
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The problem is that you all are looking at the issue through your own, rapidly becoming outated eyes. You are seeing problems that your generation doesnt know how to solve because it lacks the vision or imagination as to how future generations will see these same things and figure out how to solve them. History is filled with examples of this. The only reason we are where we are today is because of people who had vision and refused to be talked out of it by people who didn't.

I remember when I was a little kid and adults would be reading the comics in the paper and laughing at how ridiculous and impossible detective Dick Tracy's "two way wrist radio" and other gizmos were.

I suspect that if these adults were still alive today they'd feel pretty foolish thinking back to their claims about Dick Tracy's wrist radio.

One of Boeing's most influential engineers once described in an interview I did with him the people in this industry he referred to as the "Yeah, Buts." These are the people, he said, whose reaction to visionary or seemingly out of the box concepts is always, "Yeah, but" and then they go on to describe all the reasons the concept will never work.

Fortunately, he said, there will always be people who refuse to accept the lmitations of the Yeah, Buts.
Marin,

While I take certain level of personal offense at your suggestion, I'm not going to allow it to cloud my judgment.

What I'm actually looking at, are problems that already exist.
How many times have you heard that "X can't be hacked", is foolproof, or secure?" Only to find, sometimes sooner rather than later, that it was all posturing?

Every government agency in this country has been hacked at one time or another. Look at the number of corporations that have had security breaches. Banking and communication systems have been hacked.

So to bury one's head in the sand, or in this case the sea, and "assume" that it can't happen to the guidance systems in automated vehicles, vessels or planes, is folly for the foolish.

Will the geek squads of the future be able to route these problems?
Only time will tell. So far, no one has been truly successful.

Of course they can build a better mousetrap, at which time someone will genetically engineer a better mouse

The one thing I consistent flaw I see in our country, is the failure to plan ahead. To plan for failure.

It's great to plan for success, and God knows we all want it; however, if you don't plan for the failure of the systems, then when not if they fail, you are standing there holding your male genitalia in your hand as we have on so many other occasions. Who knows? Maybe the "outside the box" thinkers your Boeing engineer so gleefully described, could use a little more input from the other side of the box

As for being a "yeah but" type,...no.
I was always intrigued by the gadgets, and while not a "techie" by any stretch of the imagination, always wondered how and when some of these things would come to pass?

In reality, I can see the benefit of unmanned vessels in some situations.
I can see the cost savings and the saving of lives. Pirates? Not a problem.
Weapon systems can be installed that will take care of that problem. When you don't have humans at the helm, you can do things that you might not otherwise do. You can change course and puree the scumbags. You could allow them to board then self destruct (hey, I'm just having a little fun here!), or any number of options that might exist.

But in the case of human or hazardous cargo, not so much.

But as Ready2Go mentioned, what do you think a truly automated unmanned aircraft would have done in N.Y. situation?? The human was a trained glider pilot, and had the forethought, training and more than that, the ability, to put her down in the river.

Now, "if" there is still a pilot on the stick, somewhere back in a control room somewhere, then there's still the possibility that they can make the right decisions. But again, as he mentioned, they really have no "skin in the game."

OD
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:12 PM   #18
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...The thing about young people being able to accept things like this more easily I think may be to lack of life experiences. I am not saying that is bad. Sometimes we let our past hinder our future. I guess there has to be a balance, but some automation tips the scale too far.
Exactly.
Very well stated.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:45 PM   #19
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I guess there has to be a balance, but some automation tips the scale too far.
It can by today's way of thinking, but not by tomorrow's. "Too far" is only in the mind of the beholder.

The engineer I quoted earlier also gave me one of my all-time favorite quotes. This was a fellow whose career at this company started as a fresh-out-of-college engineer on a plane we called the Model 200 Monomail. It first flew in 1930 and it marked the departure from biplane transports to monoplane transports, a change some said "would never work" with all sorts of reasons why it wouldn't.

The world's first jet transport, the deHavilland Comet, made its public debut 1949 at the Farborough Airshow in England. This engineer and Boeing's then-CEO were in the crowd at the airshow watching the demonstration. As the Comet flew overhead the engineer turned to the CEO and said (I'm paraphrasing), "You know, life's too short to spend it working on propellers." And that was the end of the piston-engined transport as far as they were concerned. This despite the fact that the currently-accepted means of air transportation at the time was piston-powered airliners and the "Yeah, Buts" had all sorts of seemingly good reasons why jets were a bad idea for a passenger airplane.

This engineer made his mark on every major airplane this company produced from the Monomail through the 767 and 757. The company's highest engineering award is named for him.

In an interview we were discussing the efforts made to reduce the noise of jet transports during the 1950s and 60s. After describing some of the ideas that were tried, he said to me, "A lot of people looked at where we were and said, 'look how far we've come.' I looked at where we were and said, look how far we have yet to go."

I've always loved that quote because it captures the spirit I see in this industry all the time. I've been in it long enough to see the changeover from one generation to another, and now the beginning of the next changeover.

I doubt there is anyone at this company or at our competitors who can say exactly how full automation in air transportation will work. There are far, far too many challenges yet to to be met to make definitive declarations, although I've certainly heard a lot of very plausible proposals on how some of the challenges can be met.

But the one thing I don't doubt at all is that among the people who are now and who will be pursuing the solutions to these challenges, there is no question whatsoever in their minds that the goal will be reached.

I have to assume the same is true in all forms of transportation, not just aviation. After all, the goal is the same across the board: move things from here to there as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible by removing the greatest negative variable to achieving the objective: humans at the controls.

The human mind is far better utilized in coming up with new ideas and new ways of doing things than in driving machines around and making mistakes that kill people.

In the spirit of Boeing's most renowned engineer, the path of progress is not to look at where we are and settle for what we already know, but to look at where we can be and then figure out how to get there.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:58 PM   #20
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