The calendar says that it’s spring, and in many parts of theUnited States, that means getting ready for pleasure boatingseason.

Most pleasure boat owners prefer to pilot the vessel themselves,charting their own course on open waters. But, like autonomouscars, self-driving boats have moved past the drawing board into thetest phase. For example, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Researchrecently demonstrated autonomous unmanned boats,guided by software, radar and other sensors with remote humansupervision.

For the global shipping industry, autonomous vessels have thepotential to provide significant cost savings by using drone shipsthat can navigate themselves. Some shipping industry experts project thatreducing the crew could eliminate up to 50 percent of the totalcost of operating a container ship while also eliminating much ofthe on-board infrastructure needed to support the crew, resultingin 12 to 15 percent savings in fuel costs.

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Rosalie Donlon

Rosalie Donlon is the editor in chief of ALM's insurance and tax publications, including NU Property & Casualty magazine and NU You can contact her at [email protected].