The 18,000 containers aboard a vast new vessel unveiled this month by shipping giant CMA CGM are more than just climate-controlled cargo boxes. Embedded with technology from French IoT startup TRAXENS, each container is a smart connected object, able to share data with other containers, with the crew’s mobile devices, and with company HQ in Marseille. The devices relay the container’s location, temperature, humidity level, vibrations, any impacts or attempted break ins, and customs clearance status. Monitoring all that for every one of the 5 to 6 million containers in transit on the world’s oceans at any given moment would be a data revolution. It will eventually happen.
But other technologies will also soon transform how the world’s 100,000-plus ocean-going merchant ships are managed, operated, and maintained. Consulting and services firm Lloyd’s Register says the carrier of the future will be “smarter, data driven, greener…fully connected wirelessly onboard, and digitally connected through global satellites.”
Such ships might also be unmanned. Lloyd’s predicts tankers and cargo carriers will be guided by sensors, automation, big data, and global networks. Indeed, Rolls-Royce got to work this summer on a $7.5 million research project for the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation to produce specs and designs for a fully remote-controlled ship.