This article showcases new technologies in shipping and trade and includes commentary by Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate and president of Enterprises Shipping and Trade. Restis says that technological advancements in the shipping and trade industry is an ever-changing dynamic. As emerging technologies come forward, companies discover new ways to be more efficient, and save money.
Technology has guided humanity toward sustainable futures since the dawn of time. It has extended the average lifespan and has given us so many advancements. In the early days, ships sailed (not powered) and were guided by the stars. Imagine the early explorers who set out to sea with a limited amount of food and supplies, not knowing what was on the other end of the journey.
Today, ships use state of the art navigational systems to chart courses based on time, speed, weather, cargo, and efficiency – among other elements. Cargo shipping today is designed to deliver the most amount of cargo in the fastest, safest and most cost-effective way possible. Technology drives this process, and the industry is poised to continue its exploration and implementation of new technologies.
Mr. Restis mentions technologies like virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are being implemented at a rapid rate. These technologies are being applied to not only continue with the fastest, safest, and on-time delivery but with grander targets like reducing the number of carbon emissions and using alternative sources of energy to move ships across the seas and oceans. The industry as a whole is under the gun to reduce carbon emissions with target points set for 2030 and 2050.
Restis floats the idea of autonomous shipping (meaning large cargo vessels being entirely operated by AI machines, or from a remote location) with the caveated that this is an unlikely scenario anytime soon despite the leaps and bounds offered by new technologies. Self-driving cars are becoming more advanced, commercial planes can nearly fly themselves (they can take-off and land by computer operation) with AI, so it makes sense that cargo vessels may get a boost from AI and robotics.
It is important that new technologies are being directed not only at the machines but toward people as well. Using distance learning and virtual reality for recertifications, safety tests, and other operational programs seem like a cost-effective process. Instead of seafarers conducting these tests in a classroom setting, many times, they can now perform these extracurricular, yet professionally mandated course, from home or during scheduled times onboard their vessel. This saves time and money and introduces more efficiencies, which is what technology is good at doing.