Autonomous containers

In 2019, the containerized shipping industry will have transported over 800 million TEU, generating earnings in excess of $25bn.[1] These containers arrive in ports on container ships, where they face an immediate bottleneck as they are unloaded.

Self-propelled autonomous containers can be released from larger container vessels at sea and navigate to the customer by driving up beaches and entering into the road infrastructure. Later, they can make their way back to be picked up by container ships on the sea.[2]

Advancements in ubiquitous weather data, autonomous navigation at sea, advancements in container design, and safety protocols, are still needed to unlock this opportunity.[3,2]

When will it become accepted practice that containers navigate autonomously from the sea to their final destination and back?

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[1] Drewry, (2019), What does 2019 hold for the container port industry?
[2] DNV GL, (2017), Aquaculture freight: Students design autonomous containers
[3] Hamalainen, J., Yli-Paunu, P., Peussa, P., (2019), Automated container terminals and self-driving cars:Industry Outlook
More information:
Woodgate, E., (2017), Students design autonomous containers to disrupt sea freight of aquaculture products.
Maritime Denmark, (2018), Electric container barges replace trucks (2018), Forget Package Delivery Drones – Here Come Autonomous Containers.
Marine Insight, (2017), Students Design Autonomous Containers To Disrupt Sea Freight Of Aquaculture Products
TodaysArt, (2018), Inventing the Future of Shipping: Fully Autonomous Modular Container Transport
Saxon, S. and M. Stone (2017), How container shipping could reinvent itself for the digital age

By Matthew J. Spaniol