Rolls-Royce is working to bring crewless boats to the world's seas by 2020. The company believes that the self-driving vessels could lower the cost of sea transportation by up to 20 percent, Sky News reports.
According to the engineering company's vice president of innovation, Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce will work on tugboats and ferries before it attempts to bring the tech to internationally-traveling cargo ships.
"The development will start in a few countries, and these flag states will give the vessel permission to operate before we have international regulations in place," said Levander, according to Sky News.
Ship worker unions are worried that the implementation of this new tech could negatively affect its vessel-board laborers.
"The pace of change is a challenge to safety and there are also many unanswered questions about the legal implications of the way in which operational and management responsibilities are being taken away from ships staff," said a spokesperson for the international maritime union, according to Sky News. "We are concerned that technology is seen simply as a way to cut jobs and cut costs."
Though unions and industry experts have expressed these concerns, Rolls-Royce claims that its autonomous ships would allow for an increase of jobs on land—and that the vessels would be safer than the current ships.