Observation by Victor Restis
Technology is one of the coolest, most important aspects of human life and it has guided humanity toward a more sustainable future, extended the average lifespan, and has given cutting-edge advancements. Now that we are a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate and president of Enterprises Shipping and Trade, touches on new technologies in shipping and trade.
The article discusses technological advancements in the shipping and trade industry that were accelerated due to COVID. In the early days, ships sailed (not powered) and were guided by the stars. Today, ships use power (of course) and state-of-the-art navigational systems to chart courses based on time, speed, weather, cargo, etc. and are designed to deliver the most amount of cargo in the fastest, safest, and most cost-effective way possible. Technology drives this process, but it seems that a new era in international shipping may be taking place and a record rate of implementation.
Mr. Restis mentions technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence being implemented to shipping and trade 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. These technologies are leading not just the shipping and trade industry, but nearly every other industry in the world.
Technologies are being directed not only at the machines but toward the human resources that power our international supply chains. Using distance learning and virtual reality for recertifications, safety tests, and other operational programs seems like a cost-effective, and safer, process. Instead of seafarers conducting these tests in a classroom setting, many times, they can now perform these extracurricular, yet professionally mandated courses, from home or while onboard their vessel.
Restis does address 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. I have to agree with this, but the technology is there. 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. In the end, technology is being used to strengthen our processes, while keeping people safe during a global pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this new year plays out, and what further technologies may be implemented.
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