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Rolls-Royce plans to change the shipping industry by developing drone cargo ships

The drone ships would be remotely controlled using a virtual-reality recreation of a vessel’s bridge, which captains on dry land could use to control crewless ships.

WE’RE STILL A long way from Amazon’s supposed vision for drone delivery, or self-driving cars, but the shipping industry could end up seeing its own drone ships delivering cargo.

Rolls-Royce Holdings is currently designing unmaned cargo ships that would be used to deliver goods, according to Bloomberg.

The ships would be remotely controlled using a virtual-reality recreation of a vessel’s bridge, which captains on dry land could use to command crewless ships. The company says that these ships would be safer, cleaner and cheaper for delivering cargo.

Oskar Levander, a marine engineering and technology executive at Rolls-Royce told Bloomberg: “Now the technology is at the level where we can make this happen, and society is moving in this direction… If we want marine to do this, now is the time to move.”

While development on the ships began last year, Rolls-Royce hopes such ships would be deployed in regions such as the Baltic Sea within a decade. However, the company does acknowledge there are a number of obstacles that could prevent this from becoming a reality.

Currently, unmanned ships are illegal under international conventions, which requires a minimum number of crewmembers, and the issue of what could go wrong when there are no people on the ship will be of concern.

Read: UAE developing retina-scanning drones to deliver government mail >

Read: Drones not just for spying – they spot ancient ruins too >

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Quinton O'Reilly

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