back to article Rolls-Royce reckons robot cargo ships are the future of the seas

Rolls-Royce and the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) believe the future of cargo transportation is autonomous – and they have published an 88 page white paper (PDF) to prove it. The company outlined its vision of remote controlled cargo ships at the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium in Amsterdam …

  1. Alister Silver badge
    Pirate

    “In principle, anybody skilful and capable to attain access into the ICT system could take control of the ship "

    Or, alternatively, anybody with a RIB could board it and do what they want.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys
      Facepalm

      Well exactly!

      It's not IF someone will hack it, it's WHEN someone hacks it!

      Knowing how lacklustre security is for these types of companies you can almost see the headlines now for a Reg article in 2022, "PIRATE'S CRACK HACK ATTACK ON SHIP'S CARGO STACK - Real tech pirates seize control of 120,000 ton vessel and take it for a test drive towards Easter Island, residents told to evacuate.!"

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Well exactly!

        Ships are fairly automated anyway, there's plenty to hack as it is.

        1. hammarbtyp

          Re: Well exactly!

          True, put ships data connections tend to be poor. This proposal is suggesting connectivity 24/7 to the control system. A bit different than uploading some performance data every once in a while. Also satellite time is expensive, limited and affected by sea conditions. These could be improved, but would need to be addressed.

    2. Globalfuturist

      All very valid points but you're forgetting about the terminators they'd have on board - it might say unmanned but it doesn't mention un-roboted!

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Trollface

        @Globalfuturist

        Terminators? Too expensive... Let's just go with the ED-209's.

      2. BillG
        Meh

        The project also has the support of ship owners and operators.

        The soon-to-be-umemployed crews were not asked for comment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Or, alternatively, anybody with a RIB could board it and do what they want."

      They can and do already - no computer skills required, just need to know which end of an AK47 to point at the crew.

    4. JosephEngels

      "Or, alternatively, anybody with a RIB could board it and do what they want."

      On the contrary, without humans on board, you don't need the walkways, doors and windows ... so many of the customary ingress points can cease to exist. There is no real need for a bridge either, so even if they got aboard, there is not real reason to think they would be able to take control, unless they are teaching advanced CANBUS hacking in Somalia these days.

      Even when docking, the pilot would not need to board, he could happily chug alongside in his launch, remote control in hand ... which is not so far fetched, as anyone who has watched a large crane swing 50 tonnes of machinery through the air, driven by a guy with a hand held remote will tell you.

  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Internet of Ships

    “In principle, anybody skilful and capable to attain access into the ICT system could take control of the ship and change its operation according to hackers’ objectives,”

    Just don't let D-Link tender for the control systems.

    Physically the ships could be very secure, no need for windows, decks etc. Just a big square box, covered in barbed wire and anti-climb paint.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Internet of Ships

      Physically the ships could be very secure, no need for windows, decks etc.

      They need to be; the adage still applies that once you physically get hold of a computer, it's under your control.

      1. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        Physically the ships could be very secure, no need for windows

        Definitely not, I'll agree with that.

        And no need for systemd either ....

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coat

          no need for windows

          On a robot ship

          or robot anything in fact.

      2. Farnet

        Re: Internet of Ships

        Unless it's Microsoft then it's anybodies game.

        'what do you mean this hacking software isn't compatable, oh hang I just need to download the new version of Java'

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Internet of Ships

      How would they stop the bad guys arriving by Helicopter?

      Crooks are pretty adaptive.

      If they can board it what is to stop them from sending a few salvoes of RPG's into it and sinking the ship.

      What price shipping Insurance then eh?

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Internet of Ships

        But if you can build fully enclosed ships without any access points, you might as well build automated submarine transports. Get them into the open ocean, and submerge to a depth of 200m or so, and away you go. Fewer pirating opportunities, and no pesky weather to deal with either.

  3. JimmyPage

    Is it worth it ?

    Surely labour costs are close to negligible when it comes to marine freight ?

    The propose M6 driverless lorry trial makes far more economic sense.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Is it worth it ?

      One of the purposes of a crew is to deal with damage control and repairs to keep the ship afloat if need be.

      The cost of removing the crew does not justify the added expense of insuring against mishaps and transporting "rescue services" to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to throw a couple of buckets of cement on a leaking pipe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        Well, had you actually bothered to read the article before making a comment you'd have seen that the testing is only in ferries and "short sea cargo" which means that they wouldn't be out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or out in the middle of any other large body of water.

        Anything beyond that in the article is just speculation and Reg hackery.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

        We've already done away with the likes of lighthouse keepers, now ships' crews are on their way out, drivers and pilots sure to follow not too long after. I can't help wondering what human beings will be left to do that doesn't amount to sitting behind a desk competing on cost with a server somewhere, or wiping someone's arse - unless you're one of the gods controlling capital.

        1. maffski

          Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

          So what is the 'right' level of technology? Would you prefer the monotony of the assembly line and factory floor? Perhaps the drudgery of tilling the fields? Maybe the feast and famine of a hunter gatherer is more pure?

          Me? I'll take the automations thanks - with the reduction of risk and the long life that come with them. If we all end up as artisan bakers and hipster poets it just means we've eliminated want and need. Does that seem so bad?

          (written from behind a desk)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

            Except that food service is being automated too. Here in SF, a food robotics company is building a PoC restaurant that will product completely machine-made hamburgers.

            So there goes the artisan baker thing.

            We're going to need to dramatically change the meaning of work and the rewards given to displaced workers if the future is a relative few entrepreneurs and people handling those parts of design and software-writing that cannot be automated, and a huge mass of people who are otherwise underemployed.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

              "Here in SF, a food robotics company is building a PoC restaurant that will product completely machine-made hamburgers."

              Yes, but what about food?

            2. Dale 3

              Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

              We're going to need to dramatically change the meaning of work and the rewards given to displaced workers if the future is a relative few entrepreneurs and people handling those parts of design and software-writing that cannot be automated, and a huge mass of people who are otherwise underemployed.

              Apart from some of the terminology, this is probably a statement that has been uttered by every generation since the industrial revolution.

            3. fruitoftheloon
              Thumb Up

              @Marketing Hack: Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

              MH,

              indeed, were I to visit SF again, I would most definitely not be even vaguely interested in going there.

              Sure, some folk would, some folk wouldn't!

              On a gluten related note, our bread is delivered to the butchers here in the village by a local (5 miles away) bakers. Friends & family that visited are usually stunned by how tasty, non gloopy, and ''nice" it is. Following which we suggest that maybe a 'supermarket' isn't quite as super after all.

              Cheers,

              Jay

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

            " If we all end up as ... hipster poets it just means we've eliminated want and need."

            What about the want and need to eliminate hipster poets?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

              " the want and need to eliminate hipster poets?"

              oooh - i like the sound of that job. Where do i apply?

              1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

                Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

                The seas are blue

                And empty.

                Hollow souls

                Of ships

                Pass in the night.

                ----------------------------

                Sorry, post of hipster poet now taken.

          3. DropBear

            Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

            "Does that seem so bad?"

            Until either fully qualified bakers start getting paid the same amount to NOT work or the price of essential things becomes zero, yes, that does seem horribly bad.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Anybody else think that humanity is reduced by this?

            Or be dead because of famine , poverty and disease as all the people affected by more automation loose their jobs forever and with their skills , can't be recycled into another job jobs that just don't exist btw .. those jobs were also replaced by more automatons , be condemned to live under a bridge. Not to mention suicides , alcoholism etc . The only ones profiting from all the automation and replacement of humans by machines are the machine owners , the 1% that posess everything , and more automation just benefits them .. neither you nor i . Certainly not humanity as a whole. Machines create poverty . Think i exagerate ? .. maybe .. but automation certainly thrown more people out of a job than anything else.

      3. Baldy50

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        Also could it spot and respond to a vessel in trouble?

        I think not!

      4. Suricou Raven

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        Semi-autonomous ship technology could still reduce the size of crew required. The ship can navigate itsself, steer itsself. You don't need to keep someone on the bridge at all times to watch the radar and listen for the radio. The crew can be reduced to just a very small number of people to perform maintenance tasks.

        1. Edward Ashford

          Re: Is it worth it ?

          Crossing the Channel in a small boat is already a bit like crossing the M25 on a bicycle. Now you're proposing no need for lookouts? Hmmm....

          If you thought the recent Tesla car "couldn't see the lorry" incident was bad, just wait for the "container ship hit the ferry because of the wrong sort of rain"... or you might also be interested in googling the work on GPS jamming ... ah you don't need to look, it's in El Reg

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/22/gps_jammers_rife/

          Try this one for fun:

          http://www.navnin.nl/NIN/Downloads/GLAs%20-%20GPS%20Jamming%20and%20the%20Impact%20on%20Maritime%20Navigation.pdf

      5. rdhood

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        Indeed. Reading the reg article, one would think that the only folks on board are piloting the ship. In reality, ships need CONSTANT maintenance. The members of the crew that aren't piloting the ship are scrubbing, painting, lubricating, changing filters, breaking ice, yada, yada, yada. There is ALWAYS something to do.

    2. HarryBl

      Re: Is it worth it ?

      The Old Man on a typical container ship gets about £70k for 6 months work. There are usually 20-25 crew altogether including both officers and ratings.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        @HarryBI: No, not that many. When I visited the the largest container ship in the World about 10 years ago the crew was 13-15, plus some trainees at times. Ships have grown but I doubt crews have.

    3. Baldy50

      Re: Is it worth it ?

      I agree with your first point but!

      'The propose M6 driverless lorry trial makes far more economic sense.'

      If the vast amount of lorry/truck drivers lost their jobs it would have an economic impact on other trade IE full English brekkies etc...

      Although a computerised system for keeping them permanently in the inside lane would be nice, behind one for nearly 10 mins in middle lane and then I had to slow down a bit so he could tuck in behind again, then a few miles down the road pulled into the services.

      Would ever ratchet strap require a tension sensor in case one became loose or failed?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Is it worth it ?

        "Would ever ratchet strap require a tension sensor in case one became loose or failed?"

        They require them NOW. I've seen loose/flailing ones on multiple occasions with the driver cheerfully oblivious to the hazard he's causing.

  4. inmypjs Silver badge

    Rolls-Royce are deluded

    The majority of crew on a cargo ship is there to maintain it and the cargo not to steer it.

    Mærsk E-class ships carry 14,000 containers with a usual crew of 13 - not a lot of scope for labour costs saving or additional carrying capacity.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

      What, a galley, a few berths, the heads, the fresh water tanks, gangways, a workshop and spares store maybe... Not a lot of space to be saved really. A half-a-dozen shipping container's worth. Pointless, I reckon.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

      Not to be pedantic (although I am); the largest Maersk vessel is now over 15,000 TEUs. It's that acronym where the pedantry is coming from.

      The measure of cargo ship capacity is the TEU, or 'twenty-foot equivalent unit'. While 20 foot containers exist, the vast majority of what these ships carry are 40 foot boxes (ignoring the odd 45-footers that sometimes show up sticking over the stern).

      So in reality, the largest Maersk ships (when, if ever, fully-laden) carry something like 8,000 containers, a mix of 40s and 20s.

      1. HarryBl

        Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

        The Triple Es are all over 18,000 TEU. The MSC Zoe is at 19,224.

    3. Gray
      Pint

      Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

      Pipe dreams of deluded desk jockeys who've never been at sea in a storm or driven a mountain pass in a blizzard. Makes about as much sense as fully-autonomous driverless tractor-trailer rig pulling "Turnpike Doubles" (a pair of 53-foot trailers hitched in tandem) across Wyoming on Interstate 80 in a January blizzard. What could possibly go wrong!

      As for that robotic autonomous cargo ship, anticipate the shore-side reaction when it enters harbor with the mast and rigging of an ocean-cruising couple's sailboat hanging from its bow anchor.

      Here's a pint to pipe dreams, and the stiff drink needed to face the 'brave new world' we'll be suffering at the hands of rapacious corporate ass-wipes.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

        The actual sailing is trivial, and a solved problem - pretty much all large ships sit in autopilot and auto-dock most of the time.

        The crew maintain the ship. They de-rust it, paint it, fix leaks, replace pumps, strip and rebuild the engines...

        All while under way, and actively earning money for the owner.

        A robot ship with no crew quarters would have to come into port for all maintenance, costing a huge amount and even more importantly, being out of action.

        1. HarryBl

          Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

          "The actual sailing is trivial, and a solved problem - pretty much all large ships sit in autopilot and auto-dock most of the time."

          Try coming up the Channel in autopilot. Try docking a 150,000 tonne ship in gusty weather on auto.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

            "Try coming up the Channel in autopilot."

            I suspect that robotic ships would be less likely to run down errant sailboats due to the requirements to have better sensors on them.

            Not that better senors aren't required NOW, but robotics is a good excuse for much more stringent safety regulation, etc.

            1. PNGuinn
              Joke

              "I suspect that robotic ships would be less likely to run down errant sailboats"

              Yup, the Law of the Sea. Steam gives way to sail.

              So, taking this to it's (il)logical conclusion .....

              Let's fully automate ALL marine craft ...

              "Oh yes, old boy I'm taking her over to xxxx for the regatta next Saturday. Pitty I can't go - I've got to play golph with Cedric on Sunday. Never mind - I'll be able to watch it all on my smartphone between holes - I've just got one of Google's new self driving golph buggies. Wunnerful this new Hinternet of Fings aint it Henry? What'll they think of next?"

              When will Openreach get round to fibreing up the Med I wonder?

              1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                Re: "I suspect that robotic ships would be less likely to run down errant sailboats"

                >Yup, the Law of the Sea. Steam gives way to sail.

                Not when "steam" is a ruddy great container ship that takes 2 miles to stop (or whatever). In those scenarios, sail is expected to evade contact or get turned into scrap

          2. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

            I have done almost exactly that.

            The autodock is far better at it than any pilot - the only real reason for pilotage these days is because of not wanting to update all the charts daily.

            I never sailed the English Channel, but the run up to the Gatun Locks is considerably more congested - albeit that was a 76000 tonne as nothing bigger fits.

            Ship maneuvers are laughably simple to automate, while also being incredibly difficult for a human, because they are slow.

            Humans don't really see cm/s speeds, but sensors can - and so actually stop the ship before ramming the pier, where a human is fairly likely to overcook it.

            1. HarryBl

              Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

              With Gatun Locks all ships are heading in one of two directions - either towards the Canal or away - much like Port Said and Suez

              The English Channel has an east- west traffic separation zone with regular north-south traffic in the ferries that run between France and the UK

              https://vimeo.com/42114659

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Rolls-Royce are deluded

              "Humans don't really see cm/s speeds, but sensors can - and so actually stop the ship before ramming the pier, where a human is fairly likely to overcook it."

              A very good point. What was that game years ago on the Amiga called? You controlled the ship(s) docking/leaving harbour. It's bloody hard work when things happen so slowly and in real life it's even slower.

              Googling reminds me the game is Ports of Call.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: What are they doing...

      For a horrid moment I read that as "monkey butter".

      It's been a long week.

  6. hatti

    Boaty McRoboface

    1. DropBear
      Trollface

      Well there's always Starship Titanic - robots clearly got this just fine...

      1. Timbo

        "Well there's always Starship Titanic"

        Not quite one of Douglas Adams' best, but still seeing this reference, brought back a few memories...

        Wiki for those who want it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Titanic

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Distress

    And when the missing crew doesn't see or hear a radio call of another vessel in distress, I assume they sail by.

    1. EveryTime

      Re: Distress

      I don't think radio distress calls or a visually spotting a boat in trouble is an issue.

      Both are better handled by computer analysis on-board and alerting an on-shore monitoring center.

      That would be far better than the current situation on the high seas, where typically there is no lookout or radio response.

      1. Magani
        FAIL

        Re: Distress

        "...and alerting an on-shore monitoring center."

        You mean those folks nice and warm and dry and a few thousand miles away and totally unable to get there and help due to weather conditions.

      2. HarryBl

        Re: Distress

        All properly run ships have 24 hour lookouts. They have the Mate on watch and a seaman in busy waters.

        They're also equipped with GMDSS which transmits distress calls via satellite to Marine Rescue Co-ordinations centres worldwide.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Distress

          "All properly run ships have 24 hour lookouts"

          The fallacy of that is the first part: "properly run"

          The reality is that crews don't, which is why smaller boats get run down with monotonous regularity. A robot at the helm may well help reduce such issues, by dealing with the farcical claim that the current manning/watch situation is adequate (owners of course resisting anything which costs money, like detection/collision avoidance warning systems)

          Incidents of near misses between ships where one of them is clearly on GPS autopilot and NOONE is visible in the bridge are fairly easily found.

          1. HarryBl

            Re: Distress

            All modern radars have collision avoidance built in. I was sailing with CAS in 1975.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Distress

      But the other vessel won't have a crew either, so a foundering ship and lost cargo will be covered by insurance.

  8. TRT Silver badge

    " ships could beat cars to be the first autonomous vehicle"

    Except some planes and space craft of course. And missiles...

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: " ships could beat cars to be the first autonomous vehicle"

      > Except some planes and space craft of course. And missiles...

      And trains

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: " ships could beat cars to be the first autonomous vehicle"

        Doesn't count if it's on a fixed track.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: " ships could beat cars to be the first autonomous vehicle"

          "fixed track"? There's nothing about Southern rail that has been fixed recently ;-)

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Pirate

    A million pirates yelled 'splice the mainbrace, me hearty!'

    Shirley, that should be "splice the mainframe"?

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The staffiing costs of a large transport ship are fractional

    compared with the fuel costs. But the risks of doing this are huge.

    Spoiling the ship for a haporth of tars?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The staffiing costs of a large transport ship are fractional

      An fully laden oil-tanker would be a slower disaster than a fully-fueled jumbo jet, but if steered to the right place the economic damage would be similar. Consequently, I imagine that no-one would be able to afford the insurance and Lloyds of London would be equally unable to find anyone mad enough to underwrite it.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: The staffiing costs of a large transport ship are fractional

        " Lloyds of London would be equally unable to find anyone mad enough to underwrite it "

        Wanna bet? It's not that complicated to turn this into derivates quite like the ones we can remember from the subprime loans crisis. Re-package it a few times, with a nice bow on top, and you will find someone who buys it. Just make sure you don't accidentally buy it back yourself...

  11. vir

    This Is The Tale

    Of Robot Jack Sparrow, IoT so brave, on the seven seas!

  12. HarryBl

    19,000 TEU box boat disappears...

    1. DropBear
      Trollface

      ...severely traumatised IoT lifeboat found drifting days later following an EPIRB alert - "I was barely able to get away with my life" tweets the onboard computer once its batteries are recharged...

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "unmanned vessels would be cheaper to operate and would have more space for cargo"

    And zero personnel for on-site maintenance and repairs when things go wrong.

    Brilliant piece of analysis from people who haven't a clue how harsh reality is compared to management projections.

    Yes, a vessel with every single container properly secured and every inch properly maintained and verified before launch will likely perform admirably in calm weather.

    Add two months of salt water drenching the deck, zero eyes on the lookout for weakened or snapped restraints and a nice bit of storm and you can kiss goodbye to your fully automated ship and its cargo.

    Go explain to the insurance company that everything "should have been fine". I'm sure they'll be quite interested in your opinion, while denying any claim for faulty oversight.

    No ship has ever needed more than 5 people to steer it. Most ships have always needed many times that to keep it working order. Come back with your fully autonomous ships the day we have robot butlers capable of clearing the bilges on their own.

  14. Captain DaFt

    Coming soon, the newest hacker sport;

    Ro-boat Wars! Play it live with an Android App!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Coming soon, the newest hacker sport;

      You think the kids of today have an attention span long enough to cope with a "battle" where the contestants take literally miles to speed up, slow down or turn?

      It's a nice thought though.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Coming soon, the newest hacker sport;

        "You think the kids of today have an attention span long enough"

        There are conventions and play-offs devoted to playing Desert Bus, so I wouldn't dismiss the hardcore gamers playing with cargo ships so casually.

        You can play Desert Bus online here, if you're feeling a bit masochistic.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Coming soon, the newest hacker sport;

          "There are conventions and play-offs devoted to playing Desert Bus, so I wouldn't dismiss the hardcore gamers playing with cargo ships so casually."

          Wow! The depths of depravity know no bounds. But since it's for charity :-)

          ,"You can play Desert Bus online here, if you're feeling a bit masochistic.

          <walks away whistling tunelessly....suddenly breaks into a sprint!!>

  15. hammarbtyp

    A worthy goal, if probably unatainable

    While I agree with most of the comments that we are unlikely to see fully automated ships, some of the technologies being developed with that goal in mind could have some useful applications. The ability to fully automate routes through heavy sea traffic is an interesting one and not as simple as at 1st seems. Apart from the normal shipping, you also have things like leisure craft (or WFI's in marine parlance, Windbourne F**** Irritants), which would need to be avoided

  16. hammarbtyp

    Convoy!

    We might not see full automation, however it is possible we could see a convoy like system where multiple ships are led and controlled from a master ship.

    1. PNGuinn
      Go

      Re: Convoy!

      ... Rubber Duck d'you copy ....

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    System used?

    Windows for cargo ships?

    1. Knoydart
      Coat

      Re: System used?

      Surely it's Docker and its containerised software platform?

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: System used?

      Nah, they bring back VME

      Virtual

      Maritime

      Environment

      1. PNGuinn
        Thumb Up

        Re: System used?

        Or VMS

        Virtually

        Motionless

        Ships.

    3. oldcoder

      Re: System used?

      Only if you want the ship and cargo given away...

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Baaaar!

    We sees no dowsides, so we don't.

    Yarr!

  19. Jeffrey Nonken

    Anybody remember a book or movie named "Colossus: the Forbin Project"?

    In 1975 the author (Dennis Feltham Jones) wrote "The Floating Zombie".

    This will all end in tears! ... And a grade school named after a security guard.

  20. WibbleMe

    So I'm investing into robots Pirates yarrr

  21. Oengus

    Am I the only person?

    I can't believe there isn't a Superman III refefrence here yet...

  22. Youngone Silver badge

    Buried, like Blackbeard's treasure.

    My comment, for what it's worth is that as long as there continues to be a huge supply of young men from Indonesia and other SE Asian countries who are prepared to man these ships for what amounts to slave wages, then no-one will invest money in automation.

    Why would you when people are so cheap?

  23. IGnatius T Foobar

    Better solution

    Instead of trying to reduce the cost of freight, how about everyone starts producing more goods domestically so we don't need as many cargo ships. I don't like the direction we're going.

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