A Boatload of Automation


Shone is a San Francisco-based company that feels the world of autonomous operations shouldn’t be relegated to roadways and farm fields. They see additional benefits in bringing this technology to the world’s oceans – and a recent influx of $4 million in investment funding helps validate their cause.

The company is not looking to eliminate the presence of people onboard these ships, but simply make them more efficient. Shone will update these ship’s already extensive sensor network by adding a couple more sensors, some cameras, and, more importantly, allowing these assets to communicate with other communication tools like radar and GPS.

By sharing information about the weather, ocean currents, and other factors, the autonomous technology could not only help in maneuvering the ship but plotting the most efficient course. While current navigation software performs some of these functions, the real-time calculations allow for slight adjustments that could translate into thousands of dollars in fuel savings per trip.

While teams would still be needed to monitor and maintain mechanical systems, the burden could also be lessened for the other dozen or so crewmembers charged with constantly monitoring the boat’s status and progress. Admittedly, this is an area where the size of the crew could be downsized due to the Shone system’s 24/7 availability.

Shone recently signed a partnership with French shipper CMA CGM to collect data and add some hardware devices to its ships. CMA CGM operates 200 shipping routes between 420 ports in 150 different countries.

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