Man vs Machine – Why Robots Won’t Take Our Jobs

Tuesday November 8th, 2016 TAGS: ,

Will robots take our jobs? How will autonomous technology affect careers for future generations? These questions and more have been drawing media attention for some time now. The fact is, we are developing robots to replace humans. But the point often missed is that these robots are also creating careers that 10 years ago did not exist. We need people to design the robots. We need people to build the robots. We need people to operate the robots. The cliché of telling a school hall full of children ‘the jobs you will do one day may not have even been created yet’, in the case of robotics and autonomous technology, may just actually be true.

Autonomous vehicles are being put to the test both above and below the water and are growing in popularity in the aviation, automotive and maritime industries. These vehicles are being utilised by organisations in science and research, oil and gas, survey and military operations to carry out tasks that would have otherwise have been done by a human. More and more organisations are realising the benefits to be had from working without people; improved health and safety as well as lower costs to name a few. Naturally, yes, this will reduce the number of people, but that doesn’t mean those people are out of a job, it just means they are now operating vehicles from afar.

The demand for Autonomous Boats (Autonomous Surface Vehicles or ‘ASVs’ as they’re called in the industry) is growing quickly. ASVs have the potential to transform the way we work at sea, and although they seek to replace operations carried out by people, they still require man-power to be designed, built and operated, thus creating an array of new, exciting and challenging job roles.

Unmanned Operators

The Unmanned Operator will be one of the most in-demand job roles as the use of ASVs increases. Operators can work from the mothership that the ASV is working alongside via traditional radio links, or from an on-shore control station and control the ASV via satellite. In terms of qualifications, the conventional vessel navigation and seamanship qualifications are required in addition to unmanned system specific training. This includes methods of remote communications, robotic route planning, remote fault finding as well as safe launch and recovery.


Software Developers

One of the most vital parts of an ASV is the control system; the hardware and software that gives the boat its autonomous capability. The biggest team (and still growing) at ASV Global in Portchester, UK and Broussard, LA, USA is the control team. These people literally put the ‘A’ into ASV. Software developers are sought after in many industries, but the marine autonomy industry is recruiting particularly rapidly. Much of the development of ASVs and the expansion of their capabilities is reliant on software development. Key features such as advanced autonomous navigation and object detection all come down to the software elements of the overall system.


Naval Architects and Design Engineers

One area that is most definitely still in demand is design. An unmanned boat must still be designed with its function in mind, the same as a regular boat. This creates new and exciting challenges for Naval Architects and Design Engineers including fitting sensor payloads, navigational and communications equipment into what is often a much smaller platform.


These job roles are just some of many that have been created by the growth in marine autonomous technology. If the growth so far is anything to go on, there is still a lot more to come. The autonomous revolution continues…

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