1) On the open ocean, what is there to even avoid? In the harbor, you often don't have a choice; the harbor master is going to _require_ you to pick up a harbor pilot who is rated and certified for the harbor you'll be in and they must be in command of the ships steering and propulsion in order for your ship to even enter their waters.
2) Only 20% of the global merchant fleet is dedicated to shipping. The two other major types of ships, tugs and passenger ships make up most of the rest and neither of these are exactly suited to this technology.
3) Over 50% of the ships in use right now are more than 15 years old. Yea, a new one is _only_ $200 million, but that washes over the real economic picture of ship ownership and maintenance and the likely market for this product.
4) Most ships are not giant Maersk style super-container ships, so staffing reductions aren't likely to be a huge win here, if at all. Ships already run with the _minimum_ crew necessary, usually determined by already established maritime laws and agreements.
5) Microphones and pictures are nice, but ships have actual radar; why not just use that and skip all the fancy "sensor fusion" and off-brand retrofitting?
There are exceptions, in established shipping (and a few other types of) channels, the sailboat does _not_ have right of way. Also, when sailboats are using their motors for power they are considered motorboats and the special right of way no longer applies. It is also very rare to see a sailboat under sail power in a harbor and large commercial ships are always manually piloted in a harbor.
Assuming they can see you, the captain of a large boat will try to give way rather than squash you (they'd be _super_ angry about having to do so, though), but in practice they're already hugely under-crewed, so there's a large percentage of time when you (as a smaller boat) can't count on that. And even if they are actively looking out, small boats are just... hard to see. Almost all of the deaths in sailing come from a small boat's crew falling asleep without appropriate watch (you're meant to fully scan the horizon at least every 20 minutes) and getting run down by a big boat.
This is a long way of saying that big boats are already mostly automated, and I think everyone will be safer if we go all the way on it, along with more robust sensors, instead of just pretending that there's always someone doing a perfect lookout.
Radar reflectors are generally legally required on sailboats where it would matter. Offshore most sailboats are outfitted with AIS transceivers and it's legally required in many places for commercial ships.
When not in a port, large ships will often adjust their course slightly to avoid coming too close to a small sailboat even if they're in a shipping channel (if there's reasonable space to do so). With AIS the ship can see exactly where the sailboat is, its heading, and its speed, so it's pretty easy to avoid it. They'll do the same based on radar data if that's all they have. It's common for both boats will tweak their course slightly. Personally, if it's possible, I usually try to adjust my course early enough to avoid a large ship having to react.
Sailing vessels only get right of way with small vessels. You can't sail your little 20 ft trailer sailer in front of a container ship and expect them to give way.
I can't remember what the actual rule is, but I think it's somewhere around the 250 t mark that sailing boats no longer have right of way.
Of course you can’t expect a tanker to break/turn on a dime, but there’s nothing in the rules about tonnage.
Vaguely suggesting that three different companies are separately attacking different parts of the problem in a very narrow area of the world with special permits and no collective breakdown of their efforts, their progress or their potential benefits didn't seem to effectively address anything nor does it support it's own headline.
The headline was my main beef; but, we could get into the fact that the two most common maritime insurance claims are for weather damage and theft.. striking submerged objects is also a very common one, which is why harbors require skilled pilots with continual testing to bring boats in and out of those waters.
I'm still very much suspicious of these "bolt-on" AI businesses and all the uncritical hype that surrounds them.
Hopefully the helm and navigation controls are governed by a secure, air-gapped connection; otherwise someone could hijack the signal and commandeer the ship remotely, and that would be the first case of actual internet piracy.
In the near term, it’s more likely that the helm will be controlled by an autonomous system or a remote human operator while a smaller crew takes care of the vessel.”
Lots of different things rattling around in the ol’ promise of “autonomy.”
The primary job of a captain isn't to drive the vessel, it is to basically be a project manager ensuring that the vessel is running smoothly. This includes everything from crew schedules, maintenance schedules, supplies for the vessel, quality control of procedures, and on and on. The actual piloting is a very small part of what they do.
Solar panels and wind turbines could generate electricity which would be stored in batteries and then used to drive electric motors propelling the ship. Slower than diesel but also cheaper and with less moving parts.
I wonder what the efficiency of a wind turbine + engine would be compared to a sail.
Ie. if the wind blows so a ship with a sail moves at 20 mph, how fast could the wind turbine + engine move it?
Train drivers do more than just drive a train. They also have to deal with dropping off and picking up cars from the consist. They also need to monitor track conditions that aren't necessarily easy to pick up from track circuits, such as deep snow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yja2VmZOfdA shows you how some trains deal with snow).
In general, the costs of upgrading track to be able to support autonomous driving aren't worth the savings you get from eliminating driver. The main counterexception to this is Western Australia, where everything of value is 1,000 miles away from where anybody lives (and is transported by trains to the coasts for export), and so railroads face tremendous costs actually getting their drivers to their trains. Unsurprisingly, the mining companies in Australia who own/run their own railroads have invested heavily in autonomous trains.
The massive dump-trucks and drill rigs are going autonomous, with anywhere between 10% and 100% (depending on the site) of the heavy vehicles are now driverless.
The routes can be easily predefined, they are relatively short and you can add additional beacons / markers that make things much easiser.
I think the problem with trains outside of say closed loop underground trains that you have a lot of tracks in varying conditions, you can have track abstractions you have a multi agent environment with crossing and that at least as far as cargo trains go the engineer does more than just drive the train they handle many more operations.
Mine site are open cast, mine large tonnage and have long mine lives justifying the large initial investment.
Australian mining operations are also very dry, which helps a lot.
Rain introduces a lot of variables.
Large scale automation is particular to the Australian mining industry at this point.
South African deep level gold mines have been working on this for many years with little success, and I think they have mostly given up.
> Less than a month after the system's opening, on October 2, 1972, an ATC [automated train control] failure caused a train to run off the end of the elevated track at the terminal Fremont station and crash to the ground, injuring four people.
In a bit more detail, they had trackside something-or-others that gave speed information to the train. One train mis-read the speed instruction as calling for 67 MPH instead of 20-something, at a time that it was heading into a dead-end station. When that happens, if there's no human there to say "wait a minute, that's not right", the mistaken command gets obeyed, and the train crashes.
Now: Does that happen more often with automated systems? Or less often? Arguably, less. But to this day, BART has people in the cabs of their trains, at least to monitor the automated system.
Something like the DLR normally operates autonomously, there's a member of staff trained to drive it on every train but it's actually slower and more dangerous if they have to. But that's a completely grade separated system, cows on the DLR is about as likely as cows up the Empire State. And still the first train every morning is manual because maintenance teams are forgetful and a passenger sat at the front doesn't want a metal pry bar in the face when some idiot left it on the track despite checking it off as recovered.
(or maybe tech has caught up in the last few decades and they detect obstructions from further away, but that would spoil the story)
http://divine.vic.gov.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/road... has an account of a collision with a road train:
"The road train driver had slowed down to make a left-hand turn at a crossroads and Scotty had slammed into him at over 100 kilometres an hour. According to the autopsy, Scotty was over the legal alcohol limit. The driver of the road train kept going once he had completed the corner. I was later told he thought he felt a shift in the load as he slowed the vehicle to negotiate the corner."
Anyone wanting to make autonomous trucks perfect should remember the bar is actually pretty low...
Case in point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Stud%C3%A9nka_train_wreck - train hits bridge at 90 kph instead of 135 kph; a 2/3 speed, but less than 1/2 the kinetic energy.
If you are talking about intercity trains instead of metro systems - although metros typically handle many times the number of passengers - China is currently trialling driverless technologies on its Fuxing class HSR on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou route with expected entry into service by 2022.
I think unions will get in the way as much as they can, unfortunately. As an example, a 'fireman' rode along on diesel and oil trains LONG after they were rendered obsolete by the fact that there was no longer any coal to shovel.
> "The driver had stepped off the train..."
It wasn't a driverless train (except in the technical sense that the driver wasn't onboard) and the quote comes from CFMEU (for non-locals, that's the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, a massive workers' union) which has a vested interest in pushing back against automation.
So it looks like even though they've had the technology going for a while, Rio only just delivered their first 'real' loaded autonomous ore train last year : https://www.riotinto.com/ourcommitment/spotlight-18130_25692...
More on the AutoHaul system: http://www.calibregroup.com/projects/project/autohaul-projec...
Apologies for the mixup
It's not. Always assume that whatever limit can be exploited to maximize economic return is pursued to the maximum extent by everyone involved at nearly all times. If you do so you will be right more often than you are wrong. An occupation that is conceptually "easy" is made demanding through optimization.
Heavy freight trains that navigate hilly or mountainous terrain can rip themselves apart when they are not operated with precision. Passenger train operators can be held to schedules where deviation in either direction is measured in seconds regardless of weather, faults, mistakes, uncooperative passengers, etc.
When large amounts of capital are involved always assume that the expectations will be extraordinary and, therefore, difficult to automate.
I've only read the first paragraph of TFA and it looks like I was right.