Many countries around the world are developing autonomous boats for the purposes of transportation and military advancement. However, some scientists are developing autonomous boats for humanitarian and environmental purposes, such as aid transportation, marine safety, data collection and energy conservation. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by saving refugees’ lives, distributing aid, collecting data relevant to poverty reduction and protecting the oceans, all of which benefit people in low-income areas.
Self-driving boats can act as highly effective lifeguards, especially in waters that are too dangerous or difficult for human lifeguards to swim through. In 2020, the Australian government granted $5.5 million to a startup company named Ocious Technology to provide Australia with several autonomous boats to save refugees at sea from drowning. The vessels are solar-powered and are equipped with “360-degree cameras, radar, automatic identification systems and collision avoidance software.” The vessels are large enough to carry several people from sea to safety, in contrast with a human lifeguard who would likely only be able to save a limited number of people. According to Statista, “from January to September 2021, “almost 1,400 migrants lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by addressing refugee crises, providing humanitarian lifeguard assistance to those in need.
Self-driving boats are capable of transporting both people and goods. In addition to their “lifeguarding” abilities, the ships can transport humanitarian aid to economically developing countries. Many autonomous boats have propellers that allow them to move in any direction as well as a “series of cameras and sensors to guide [their] movements.” Some self-driving boats can also sync up with other boats, creating groups of boats that can travel long distances together. As a result, autonomous boats can be highly effective tools for transporting essential goods, such as aid. Without the need for a person to man the vessel, autonomous ships can safely deliver aid to war-ridden countries that are too dangerous for humans to enter.
Autonomous boats can collect a wide range of data relevant to poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Equipped with cameras and a variety of sensors, the boats can collect mass data about the ocean as well as temperature, air pressure, wind direction, solar intensity, wave height and more at a given location. Scientists can use the sensors on autonomous ships to study and preserve marine life, discover food and water sources and even locate missing people and items. Furthermore, fishers can use data from the ships to maximize their catches and ensure the marine item is a sustainable source, which benefits fishers economically and ensures adequate food for their local communities. As such, self-driving boats can reduce poverty by preserving marine ecosystems and improving access to food in low-income communities.
Autonomous boats can also collect rubbish, monitor marine biodiversity and hydrocarbons, check for oil leaks and collect oceanographic and meteorological data. The boats can help keep oceans healthy and clean, which is beneficial to both people and the environment. According to the United Nations, oceans provide humans with food, drinking water, rainwater and even oxygen. Therefore, as a global resource, it is crucial to preserve the sea. Autonomous robots can protect oceans from pollution and acidification, which both harm ecosystems and biodiversity to a great extent. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by protecting the oceans, thereby supporting small-scale fisheries in developing countries.
– Cleo Hudson