A shuttle is the central part of a shuttle weaving machine as it holds the weft yarn. The shuttle is thrown through the shed by the mechanics of the weaving machine from one side to the other, creating thus a woven fabric.
Weaving by the means of a shuttle is a relatively old method: it already existed when weaving was done manually. Nowadays, shuttle weaving is not that popular anymore due to their low speed / efficiency. In denim production, shuttle weaving still can be popular, especially when one would like to have selvedges. (As other weaving techniques do not necessariliy have the "loop back around with the weft yarn"-characteristic which creates the self-edge.
Shuttles in weaving machines largely have been replaced with different "throwing" methods : with modern weaving machines, the yarn is thrown from one side of the shed to the other by projectiles, grippers, air jet or water jet method. Except for narrow weaving: there, shuttles are stil often used as with shuttles, one gets wonderful selvedges ("self-finished edge"), thus one does not need to cut the weft yarn on every side.