Autonomous navigation: the future of maritime shipments

The maritime industry is evolving by leaps and bounds with the use of new technologies and custom innovations. Its most recent discovery is the use of autonomous navigation systems. It only remains to be defined: when will the maritime shipping take full advantage of it in the global trade?


It is already a tangible reality the existence of ships and shipments with autonomous navigation. A clear example of this is SmartDock, an automatic coupling system that allows a ship to sail, maneuver and arrive from one port to another without the help of a human crew. So is the Yara Birkeland vessel, the first 100% electric and autonomous container ship, currently under trial, but expected to be ready to work in 2020 to transport fertilizers and other chemicals from the agricultural industry in Norway.

This shows that autonomous navigation has already taken its first steps. And although the development of this technology is still incipient, it continues to sum up support and financing from many countries, as well as from public and private companies interested in taking it as soon as possible to the maritime industry, especially to maritime freight transport, which is the main player of global trade.


How would the autonomous navigation influence international logistics?


Many of the top ocean carriers companies are now automating their processes, robotizing lines of work, digitizing data, using the cloud, the IoT, etc., to be part of what we know as industry 4.0 in order to become more competitive. Therefore, autonomous navigation is not far from their interest, because it promises benefits in transportable cargo volume, reduction of polluting emissions of the environment, reduction of operating costs and time, which would allow them to increase the number of trips and the service they offer to their customers, including freight forwarders.

And this makes us wonder: are freight forwarders ready to work with autonomous ships and shipments?

Being part of the maritime shipping sector, it is likely that some freight forwarders are ready or at least getting ready to face whatever that implies the autonomous navigation of container cargo ships to the industry. We must consider what this could mean to them, such as lower freight rates variation, smart contracts management, greater use of blockchain technology, customs management, and other online operations, etc.

Nevertheless, we know that there is still a need to prepare the freight forwarders who have not yet fully entered the new digital era. Fortunately, there are companies willing to help them evolve. Cargofive is one of them because we encourage them to keep up with the growing pace of the industry, enjoying the benefits of digitalization, in order to be more competitive and faster when offering solutions to their customers and, therefore, helping them to be more efficient.

In other words, if what the future holds comes in autonomous navigation ships, it is better to start living with that thought and to understand that automation is here to stay.