The drones are still in the trial phase, BHP’s Vice President of Marketing Freight, Rashpal Bhatti said, but he believes that they have big potential as they have artificial intelligence that provides captains a digital view of their ship.

According to the company, in the ocean freight business, drones can inspect holds and take draft readings. They can also advise the ship’s bridge on the water position of the rudder.

Hold inspection reports will still be independent assessments, but drones can reduce inspection times per hold from an hour to 15 minutes.

The drones will also be tested for their ability to improve the safety, time and cost of ship draft readings.

This is usually done from a boat when the ship is berthed and ready for a cargo.

However, one of the logistical challenges that drones have to overcome is to get them on ships when they are offshore at anchorage, as distinct from being berthed.