The global autonomous ships market size had a revenue share of USD 89.66 billion in 2021, which is projected to reach USD 151.88 billion growing at a CAGR of 6.81% during the forecast period. A ship operated by artificial intelligence is referred to as an autonomous ship. Software and hardware systems are installed on autonomous ships, which are also referred to as crewless ships. Typically, such vessels operate without human intervention. The components of these ships, like sensors, automated navigation, propulsion, auxiliary systems, GPS trackers, and others, help the ships make decisions under the environment. In addition, the partially automated ships are monitored and controlled by off-board control centers with human intervention.
In addition, an autonomous ship is equipped with a comprehensive set of operations managed by sophisticated operating systems, allowing it to make decisions and take actions independently. In autonomous ships, components like sensors, integrated radar systems, and live tracking navigation assemblies are supported by facilities like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), amongst others. These services help adhere to mission strategies, adjust mission completion, and sense the environment with the necessary decision logic.
Currently, there is a demand for sophisticated and autonomous ships, which can reduce the need for human intervention. An increase in global maritime commerce is one of the primary factors driving the market share of autonomous ships. In addition, factors such as the increase in demand for cargo transportation via marines and the operational safety of ships fuel the market's expansion. Though, the risk of system exploitation through hacking and the growing complexity of the network hinders the development of the autonomous ships market.
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The Upsurge in Cargo Transportation Via Marines and Increased Operational Safety of Ships to Aid Growth
Due to the efficient and secure transfer of numerous cargo to the other side, there is an increase in demand for cargo transportation via waterways. Furthermore, cargo ships are less pricey than road and air transits for transporting goods because they can transport more cargo in a shorter amount of time. Approximately 1,687 million tons of cargo are transported annually, according to UNCTAD records. Recent innovations in commercial vessels and the introduction of cargo ships by significant players outfitted with cutting-edge technology, including advanced sensors, navigation systems, and other components, are driving demand in the global market for autonomous cargo ships. Additionally, the introduction of autonomous marines, particularly in cargo vessels, creates a need for transporting cargo via sea routes, which demands cargo transportation. Thus, these factors contribute to increasing the demand for marine cargo transport and the market for autonomous ships.
The autonomous ships introduced to the market do not have a crew on board to control operations. They are either installed with technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud computing, and other sophisticated technology, or their functions are controlled remotely from a control station located on land. This reduces the accidents caused by human error, as these autonomous ships are outfitted with various advanced sensors, infrared cameras, and improved radar, allowing for safer operation. Additionally, implementing automated features on ships reduces the likelihood of ship grounding, shipyard accidents, tugboat disasters, and cargo hauling accidents, among others. Thus, an increase in automation contributes to a rise in the operational safety of ships.
Risk of Exploitation Through Hacking to Hinder Market Growth
In this age of rapid change, security is a top priority in the transportation sector. The autonomous vessel employs IoT technology that is internet-connected. The increased threat or misuse of data hacking in the marine industry has caused severe problems by allowing access to navigational data to travel elsewhere or disabling their navigational system. In February of 2019, for instance, a large international vessel was the victim of a cyberattack that landed in hot water. Consequently, this risk associated with cargo ships is predicted to impede the market expansion of autonomous ships.
Increased Marine Safety Norms to Spur Market Opportunities
There are numerous safety regulations associated with ocean travel. These are referred to as Maritime Safety of Life (SOLAS). This includes several treaties pertaining to autonomous maritime safety, like ship construction and design, navigation communications, search and rescue ship system equipment, and pollution control and response. Moreover, these standards are continuously updated based on the necessity and development of technology. Thus, it is anticipated that the increase in marine safety standards will generate an excellent opportunity to expand autonomous ships soon.
The global autonomous ships market is classified based on the level of autonomy, component, ship type, fuel type, and region.
Based on the level of autonomy, the segments include semi-autonomous and fully autonomous.
The semi-autonomous ships segment will likely hold the most significant market proportion during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 6.21%. Semi-autonomous ships are those in which a crew may or may not be present to control the ship's operations. They are further categorized as either partially autonomous or remote-controlled. As no technology is available for complete automation, the current trend is toward applying semi-autonomous vessels in the oceans. It will take time to implement these technologies on a larger scale, even though nations are establishing technologies that will lead to complete automation.
The fully-autonomous ships will hold the second-largest share. Fully autonomous ships lack a crew and have an advanced system that controls all activities relating to the ship's operation. The market trend in the transportation industry is toward adopting this technology, whether on land or at sea. Various businesses are hurrying toward the application of complete automation.
Based on the component, the segments include hardware and software.
The hardware segment will hold the largest share during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 6.11%. In autonomous ships, hardware is utilized for applications like navigation controlling, fleet management, motion monitoring, gas monitoring (CO, NO2, and NH2), atmospheric pressure & temperature measurement, and others. Companies have entered the ship telematics market due to the rise in the new system and hardware innovations for vessel management.
The software segment will hold the second-largest share. Autonomous ships utilize various platforms for data transmission, such as the software unit's integrated Application Programming Interface (API). The suppliers are taking the initiative by providing a software-based application that supports the autonomous ship's functionality.
Based on the ship type, the segments include commercial, defense, and passenger ships.
The commercial ships segment is expected to hold the most significant market proportion during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 6.21%. Commercial ships are those used for commercial purposes. Transporting cargo or passengers from one location to another. The expansion of the marine industry is a result of the deployment of automated systems in the transportation sector. Numerous companies are working toward introducing and implementing autonomous commercial ships. The need for automation on commercial ships arose to reduce the number of accidents resulting from human error or calculation or approximation errors.
The passenger ship segment will hold the second-largest share. A passenger ship is used to transport passengers across waterways from one location to another. This includes ferries that travel daily or overnight, ocean liners that typically carry passengers or cargo, and cruise ships that offer passengers a round-trip. Increased adoption of cutting-edge technology and automation application in the transportation industry are driving the segment's expansion.
Based on the fuel type, the segment includes carbon-neutral fuels, liquefied natural gas (LNG), electric batteries, and heavy fuel oil (HFO).
The heavy fuel oil segment is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.31% and hold the largest share during the forecast period. HFOs are the marine fuels with the highest density and viscosity. They are referred to as HFOs because they contain long-chain hydrocarbons, aromatics, and long-branched side chains. Due to its high density and thickness, HFO is the most commonly used marine fuel. Due to the advent of high alkaline cylinder lubrication, which neutralizes the acid generated by the high sulfur content in HFOs, they have become popular. Due to its high density and viscosity, it is also utilized as a ship fuel.
The carbon-neutral fuels segment will hold the second-largest share. Carbon neutral fuels are a variety of fuels that contain no greenhouse gases or carbon footprints. Carbon-neutral fuel is the trending type of fuel used in transportation around the world. This includes using environmentally friendly fuels such as hydrogen and electric fuels. As companies move toward automation and develop fuel-efficient systems, there is a growing emphasis on developing such vessels.
The region-wise segmentation of the global autonomous ships market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Is Europe and the Asia Pacific Likely to Dominate the Global Autonomous Ships Market?
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Europe will likely hold the most significant market proportion during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 8.11%. This region has a high rate of adoption of autonomous transportation technology. Countries such as Norway have developed the world's first fully autonomous cargo ships, which are currently sailing the oceans. This has established the region as a critical player in the movement toward adopting automation in the marine industry. The constant creation of new technology and its subsequent adoption is the driving force behind the region's autonomous ships market expansion, which attracts a more significant amount of investment.
Asia Pacific will grow at a CAGR of 5.41% and reach USD 67,229 million by 2030. The countries in this region are among the most advanced in the world in the implementation of automation in their transportation sectors, which includes everything from autonomous trains to autonomous marines. This has led to the rapid expansion of the market for autonomous ships in this region. The continual adoption of emerging technologies and the quickening pace of the transition toward automation are driving the development of the market and presenting a variety of new opportunities for growth in the region. This region's demand for autonomous ships is in the early stages of development and is anticipated to expand rapidly over the forecast period.