|Attribution: Walter Rademacher / Wikipedia|
My friend BillB sent me this link to a BusinessWeek article relating to the Maersk organization currently operating the world's largest container ships:
This article provoked some questioning:
If there are going to be self-driving cars in the near future (and self-driving trucks) then surely there will be self-driving ships - with crews hopping aboard just before coming into a tricky port or to go through the Suez Canal for example. When that happens, will the ships then become bigger or smaller? My guess is more, smaller ships. Perhaps slower and solar powered,
And also, my guess is that the Chinese and Russians will finally wake up and build an effective trans-Siberian railway. In the US trains are often 12,500 feet long - carrying perhaps 2,500 containers at 100 kph This would most likely be faster and cheaper than the container ship. Even if the ship carries 18,000 containers, it would not take that heavy a schedule for the trains to sink the ships.
If a trans-Siberian route is successful, then a Bering Straits crossing would surely follow.
And as photovoltaic power costs continue to fall and as the transcontinental railroads pass through mostly desolate countryside, it will become effective to power the trains by electricity generated just adjacent to the tracks. Even if the the trains could only run during the day, this would be more effective than a container ship burning 33,000 gallons of fuel per day.
I feel confident that these ships will return good profits to their owners. The changes I am talking about may take decades. Nevertheless, if you ever get to view one of these awesome behemoths, do have good look because she and her kin may stay in the record books for quite a while as some of the largest movable things ever built.