By 2020, unmanned shipping could be a commercial reality. Consortia around the world are pursuing projects to design autonomous ships and get them into operation.

Japan’s NYK Line wants to test-sail a large containership across the Pacific by remote control by 2019 with a standby crew onboard. A year after that, engineering firm Kongsberg and fertiliser giant Yara plan to have small unmanned containerships operating on a fixed route in Norwegian domestic waters.