The marine industry is undergoing a technological revolution with robots at its core. Robotics education must become a central part of marine training programs for the industry to grow and innovate. In fact, increasing the availability of education could have several positive effects, powering a complete restructuring of the sector.
1. Develop New Robots for the Marine Industry
One of the clearest benefits of robotics education for the marine industry is the development of new robots specifically designed for this sector. Robots are already taking on key roles, such as cleaning hulls. These bots have proven extremely useful for reducing the time and money spent on dry dock cleaning and decreasing the spread of invasive species.
Hull-cleaning robots are just a glimpse at the robotics and automation-driven future. This trend is on the rise in virtually every industry today, and the marine sector is no exception. As robots gain greater importance, marine-specific robotics experts will be in increasingly high demand.
2. Support the Autonomous Shipping Movement
AI is coming to cargo ships and may be here sooner than you think. Autonomous shipping could help relieve pressure on the global supply chain and completely transform the marine industry. Robotics education will be crucial for supporting and powering the autonomous ships of the future.
Increasing the availability of robotics education programs will be key to reskilling the marine industry for autonomous ships. Some jobs will no longer be needed, such as those on board large cargo vessels, while others will be required in droves, such as autonomous ship operators and coordinators at ports.
“The Yara Bikeland is the world’s first fully autonomous electric cargo ship. It completed its maiden voyage in 2022.” — Ship Technology”
3. Strengthen Marine Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has never been more important. The marine industry faces a range of cyberthreats today, from common phishing attacks to malware and remote hijacking. The only way to prepare for these digital threats is through education.
Robotics is ideal for building computer literacy and programming skills, which are vital to cybersecurity careers. That said, most upper-level cyber professionals require a four-year degree. However, a general-purpose robotics education program is great for giving marine industry employees and trainees some basic but invaluable skills. Examples include code literacy, understanding data backups and storage, and identifying malicious code and software.
4. Improve Marine Software Development
More advanced and specialized software programs will be needed as technology plays an increasingly crucial role in the marine industry. This includes marine-specific software, such as programs for coordinating the movement of autonomous ships around ports. Robotics education is valuable for building computer literacy and development skills at all levels.
It is important to remember that robotics education is just as much about programming and software as mechanical and electrical engineering. Students may gravitate toward the programming end of things during training, possibly indicating someone is a good candidate for a career in marine software development. Robotics education is the perfect opportunity to identify and nurture that talent.
“The average time it takes to identify a cyberattack in your system is 140 days. That’s 140 days criminals can steal information from your company or your ship and use it to their advantage.” — Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies
5. Attract the Next Generation
Current industry professionals will need to prioritize attracting younger generations to marine careers for the marine industry to evolve in the years ahead. Gen-Z is just beginning to enter the workforce, but one thing is already clear: These young new hires are looking for careers in technology.
Numerous surveys over recent years have shown that Gen-Z continues to gravitate toward tech-focused roles and workplaces where technology is frequently used. Robotics is a popular and attractive career field for young people. It is also a great way to get students still in middle and high school interested in marine careers. Robotics involves creativity, problem-solving and the technology that Gen-Z is natively adept with.
A robotics education program could be a great way for you to engage young people in the marine industry and attract older members of Gen-Z who are entering the workforce to these careers. Education is especially important for supporting women in STEM and diversifying the sector.
6. Back Climate Initiatives
Working toward positive climate initiatives is important for the marine industry. Another element of attracting young new hires is demonstrating care for the environment. Climate change is one of Gen-Z’s top concerns worldwide. Additionally, the general public is increasingly expecting organizations of all sizes to take action to combat it. The marine industry is doing its part — with robots.
Robots are emerging as a leading solution to marine pollution, with more ocean cleanup bots emerging every year. For instance, popular video game company Razer has partnered with robotics company Clearbot to create an autonomous machine that removes trash from waterways. Similarly, Dutch startup BeachBot is developing an autonomous robot that collects garbage from beaches, preventing it from polluting oceans.
The marine industry needs more robots like these to address ocean pollution worldwide. Robotics education is the first step toward increasing robotics knowledge in the sector and attracting young people with an interest in climate technology.
“Every year, 11 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 200 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.” — Ocean Conservancy
7. Boost Marine Industry Safety
Safety is a top concern in the spotlight for many industries. This trend will only continue in the years to come as young people enter the workforce and put greater emphasis on workplace conditions. The marine industry may not be more dangerous than similar sectors, but there is always room for improvement. Robots can help strengthen marine industry safety.
Marine industry employees can learn how to work safely with robots through robotics education courses. This is particularly important in ports where robotic forklifts and autonomous vehicles are used.
Robots can take on dangerous or risky tasks to help keep employees safe, but robotics education ensures no one is unintentionally endangered in the process. This will help the industry adapt to the increasing number of bots.
8. Enhance Marine Training Programs
The marine industry is a diverse field with a wide range of career possibilities, all of which can benefit from the addition of robotics education in training programs. For instance, robotic AI-powered simulations allow people to learn to be ship pilots and masters get a more realistic training experience.
Adding robotics-specific courses in marine training programs could also help attract young people to the industry. Robots play an important role in the sector, so making robotics-specific classes a priority could go a long way toward showing young people that marine careers go well beyond sailors. As an added benefit, making robotics education a central part of the training will help future-proof the industry and prepare it for widespread automation.
Powering the Future of the Marine Industry
The marine industry is on the brink of a widespread technological transformation with robotics front and center. Education is key to ensuring it has the personnel and knowledge needed to adapt and innovate. Robots are taking on an increasingly important role in the sector, and education is the only way to ensure the robot-powered future is set up for smooth sailing.