close search

Why do they use robots in the marine industry?

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

There are two main reasons for why they use robots in the marine industry, ones that are shared with many other industries, and that’s to reduce costs and maximise safety.

The reduction of costs is crucial for any industry, but for the marine industry, it is a huge focus.

The key applications in this industry are shipboard robots, unmanned underwater robots and autonomous surface vessels.

Let's take shipboard robots first. Manning a crew can be an expensive business and one which can also be hazardous for the human sailors. Large cargo ships which complete long voyages can be heavy on staff both in terms of their workload and having to be away from home for such long times. The more robots that can be utilised on board a ship, the better. 

With unmanned underwater robots, there is a cost consideration, but one of the main factors is keeping humans out of the way of dangerous tasks. Think of oil rig welders who work in the offshore industry and are often kept in diving chambers hundreds of metres below the sea so that their bodies can adjust to extreme depths. Think is very dangerous and mentally taxing work. If robot welders could take the strain, then better for all concerned. 

Then come autonomous surface vessels. If these can navigate and dock without human intervention, then there would be significant cost reductions for the shipping lines. Training a fully qualified merchant crew,and making sure they are rostered correctly, is a large expense for shipping companies.

And it is for these main reasons that robots and automation will continue to play a major role in the marine industry.