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Would you climb aboard a driverless ship?

10 Sep 2020
Alexander Saul

Alexander Saul

We’ve heard a lot about driverless cars and trains but could driverless ships also be a reality in the not-too-distant future?

It’s a tricky ask. Reliable connectivity at sea can be a challenge, not to mention the huge weather variables to be faced.

In Germany, we’re working with one of the most travelled waterways in the world to explore the possibilities.

Making water travel safer

Using 5G, the port of Kiel hopes to see autonomous passenger ferries cruising its banks by 2021.

Several locations around the inner fjord will be connected to create a network that will link ships, ferries and people. Within this network, 5G will allow the exchange of data and information in real time.

This means the port’s control centre and the on-board crews will have a constant flow of data informing their decisions, alongside insight provided by artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

And that’s not all. With most ferry accidents caused by human error, these autonomous and semi-autonomous systems have the power to reduce reliance on people, making our waterways safer with less accidents and less delays.

Autonomy can also lead to streamlined designs, reducing ship building costs. And greater efficiency also means a reduction in fuel consumption, a clear goal for any ‘future ready’ business today.

5G ferries in action

Let’s say there is an object a vessel needs to safely navigate around. Thanks to 5G, the ship and the obstacle can talk to each other via sensors and safely divert using the quickest route. Similarly to the way vehicles on the road talk to the infrastructure (e.g. buildings and traffic lights).

With such great benefits, the project in Kiel, named “Fjord 5G”, is looking into how this technology could be used for applications to improve port logistics and coaching at sailing regattas too.

Shipping goes digital with 5G

What to automate next?

Working with various partners around the globe, we’re trialling autonomous cars, drones, trains and even golf shuttles.

Now more than ever, with new social distancing regulations, autonomous vehicles could be the answer and the transport of the future even beyond roads.

Learn more about 5G and what it can do for your business.

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