On the water, the situation is a little different: with fewer vehicles in canals, rivers, and on the open water than on roads, and without the problem of wayward pedestrians, autonomous boats have fewer obstacles to contend with. Additionally, boats often follow set routes – for example shipping routes and ferry crossings – so navigation is easier than with an autonomous car.
There are already a number of self-driving boats operating on our waterways. Powered by advanced artificial intelligence and sensor systems, these boats navigate, avoid obstacles and adapt to changing conditions in real-time.
From cargo transportation to search and rescue missions, and passenger ferries to tugboats, they can be programmed to carry out complex tasks, such as monitoring water quality, collecting oceanographic data, or even assisting in offshore construction projects.