Autonomous logistics afloat


Autonomy success will include small-load, short-haul
Eric Bakker/Port of Rotterdam

Autonomous shipping – the keynote topic of every maritime industry event for quite some time – is finally taking baby steps towards reality. However, major regulatory challenges still lie ahead…

A key aspect of this will be how ports will need to adapt to welcome autonomous ships. In particular, the ways that unmanned vessels will berth and manoeuvre around ports – many of which might be densely trafficked – will be the subject of intense scrutiny…

Ports are already under pressure to adapt to a number of recent trends, including bigger ships, sustainability and climate change initiatives and smart concepts such as big data. But where do autonomous ships fit into the equation?

Andrew Higgs is a consultant solicitor at Setford Solicitors and one of the co-authors of the BPA report. He says that autonomous ships could help UK ports benefit from increased short sea shipping across inland and territorial waters around the British Isles, as well as continental European ports.

While initial considerations are oriented towards the EU and the UK…questions ranged, from regulation to logistics complexity are touched throughout the article. Not only a good read for folks currently involved in commerce and logistics…but, anyone with an interest in where robots and automation, artificial intelligence and its implementation are headed.

The first port in the world aiming for advanced autonomous operations is Caofeidan in northern China … by the end of the year. Including a joint US/China startup, TuSimple. Might be nice if our Cold Warriors in Congress and the White House paid attention to the world of commerce.

We found a baby on the subway … he became our son


Pete, Kevin and Danny in 2001

It was around eight o’clock on 28 August 2000, just past the frenzy of the New York rush hour when a subway train rattled down the track into 14th Street station, in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. Danny Stewart, 34, was late for dinner with his partner, Pete Mercurio, 32.

The couple had met three years earlier through a friend in Pete’s softball team. Later Danny had moved in with Pete and his flatmate, but on this summer evening he had been back to his sublet apartment in Harlem to pick up the post.

As Danny was hurrying out of the station something caught his eye.

“I noticed on the floor tucked up against the wall, what I thought was a baby doll,” he says.

That baby doll turned out to be an abandoned newborn…and the tale of rescue, eventually a couple with a new son, is the stuff of heartwarming engagement. Read and enjoy.