Ship captains won't even step on-board a boat, this scenario is now coming closer to reality as according to a Bloomberg report, Rolls-Royce's marine division has begun testing a virtual reality bridge that may one day allow captains to navigate ships from on land, and without a crew aboard.

That ties into a similar project called Maritime Unmanned Navigation (MUNIN). The EU is funding this 3.5m euro (£2.8m) project which aims to develop its own autonomous ship.

Project MUNIN is made up of eight partner companies led by Germany’s Fraunhofer institute and coordinated in Sweden.

"The idea of a remote-controlled ship is not new, it has been around for decades, but the difference is the technology now exists,” announced Oskar Levander, head of marine innovation engineering at Rolls-Royce, in an interview to the Financial Times last December

Project MUNIN is based on the fact that much of the technology for robotic ships already exists. Many ships have anti-collision systems, automatic steering, satellite navigation, ship-to-shore telemetry, onboard cameras, so the leap isn't so great as one might think. But instead of just cracking a bottle of champagne on SS Roboship, the technology would be introduced gradually, such as reducing watch crews or allowing the entire crew to sleep at the same time without anyone on the bridge. Much of this involves simply installing new technology on existing ships, but over the next twenty years it will require redesigning ships from the keel up to get the most out of autonomous systems.