Maersk CEO: Autonomous Box Shipping ‘Not in My Time’


Soren Skou, CEO of Maersk, has told Bloomberg that autonomous containerships without humans on board are unlikely to operate in his lifetime.

In an interview about how the company would drive efficiency, the 53-year-old leader of the world’s biggest container shipping company said there was little to gain by reducing the size of crews on containerships.

During the interview, Skou said: “Even if the technology advances, I don’t expect we will be allowed to sail around with 400-meter long container ships, weighing 200,000 tonnes without any human beings on board.

“I don’t think it will be a driver of efficiency, not in my time.”

Maersk recently launched the world’s first remotely operated commercial vessel — a tugboat — through a collaboration between its Svitzer unit and Rolls Royce in November 2017.

The research and development gained by Maersk combing its vessel operation expertise with Rolls Royce’s experience in autonomous technology will help it build a roadmap for autonomous technology in its Transport & Logistics businesses.


See how Rolls-Royce is shaping the future of shipping:

Read a technical paper by Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce, Vice President of Innovation – Marine, on smart ships and the future of maritime intelligence


Maersk will weigh up the value of certain technologies to vessel crews and operations in terms of safety, reliability and efficiency.

During the autonomous tugboat trial, Michael Rodey, Senior Innovation Project Manager, Autonomy and Augmented Control in Maersk’s Transport & Logistics division, said: “We are in an exploratory phase.

“Autonomous technology has many levels.

“We are not interested in complete autonomy or unmanned vessels – that is not our goal.

“The technology along the journey is what’s of interest to us.”

Read more: Rolls-Royce has opened a facility in Turku, Finland, to develop technologies with its partners that are required to shape the future of an increasingly more autonomous global shipping industry

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