NPC ships have been introduced! They are a series of independent Genari and Sol ships, from large freighters, to small, nimble couriers. Though they do not have any direct impact on combat, they will be used in single player missions. They also will be seen moving about on their own routes/schedules, moving from one system to the next.
As an opposing faction.you can encounter them and potentially trap/destroy them if you end up appearing in a region where they are doing their routines. They will try to escape the region!