China will be the leader in autonomous shipping by 2025, technology research and innovation consultancy Thetius predicts in a new research report on the sector.
UK-based Thetius has analysed close to 3,000 patents relating to autonomous shipping technology and found that 96% of them were registered in China. The vast majority of those patents were registered in the last five years by a small group of Chinese universities and private companies.
“The incredible amount of recent patent activity indicates that significant R&D funding has been made available to Chinese researchers building the next generation of autonomous shipping technology, further, the government is highly supportive of the sector, having recently set up a 300 square mile autonomous shipping testbed in Guangdong,” said Nick Chubb, a director at Thetius and regular Splash columnist.
According to the Thetius report, the maritime autonomous surface shipping (MASS) market is worth $1.1bn annually and is expected to grow 7% per year to $1.5bn by 2025.
In December last year, China’s autonomous ship development reached a major milestone with the country’s first autonomous cargo ship Jin Dou Yun 0 Hao completing its first ever trial voyage in Zhuhai, a city which aims to develop an industrial platform for autonomous shipping with the Wanshan Marine Test Field, the largest autonomous ship test ground in the world.