Vastly improved maritime connectivity, the advance of cyber-physical systems and ‘digital’ twins will dominate the digital side of shipping in the coming decade, as vessels increasingly resemble floating computers.
Before 2025, many ships, systems, and components will be linked to the Internet, making them accessible from almost any location. Maritime connectivity will advance significantly, and will dramatically effect how the industry manages information.
Modern ships are becoming highly automated and are increasingly dependent on software-based control systems. Advanced software and simulation capabilities will result in more complex systems being controlled by software, while near real-time evaluation possibilities will be available, accompanied by suggestions for corrective actions by the crew and providing supply chain management decision support. Increased automation and availability of high-reliability, software-controlled, cyber-physical systems will allow for advances in automation and remotely controlled operations.
Digital copies of real vessels – dubbed ‘digital twins’ – will start to be used in earnest by the industry to explore and enhance layouts, design specifications, simulation models, data analytics, and so on. A digital twin of a ship has many potential applications throughout its lifecycle.