Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rolls Royce Pioneering Autonomous Freight Cargo Ships with Multiple Partner Projects

Agreements with Numerous Technology Leaders Reached
Shipping News Feature
FINLAND – WORLDWIDE – Rolls-Royce has been making waves in the world of shipping having recently signed multiple agreements aimed at developing the use of autonomous systems in the maritime industry. Not a name traditionally associated with the world of freight, the company has tried its best to stay in-line with technological advancements in the industry with Rolls-Royce having already entered into several other agreements to make remotely controlled and autonomous deep sea vessels a reality.

In Finland, Rolls-Royce and MacGregor, part of Cargotec, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research and development to explore the impact of developments in autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo handling systems on-board container ships. This collaboration will harness both companies’ unique experience laying the groundwork for the development of autonomous container ships. Asbjørn Skaro, Rolls-Royce, Director Digital and Systems, said:

"Rolls-Royce is pioneering remotely controlled and autonomous ships and believes such a remote controlled ship will be in commercial use by the end of the decade and a common sight on the high seas by 2030. For the full benefits of such a change to be realised many activities currently done today manually will need to be done autonomously. This research will help us explore how that might be achieved.”

Elsewhere, Rolls-Royce and Tampere University of Technology in Finland have announced a strategic partnership to develop and test the technology to support systems necessary for autonomous navigation, enabling the first generation of autonomous ships. The partners will work towards developing and validating technologies using the University’s purpose built autonomous ship simulator.

Tampere University of Technology has extensive research expertise in intelligent machines and networked systems. The University’s research into autonomous systems looks at how huge quantities of data can be analysed, processed, and transferred, as well as signal processing and human machine interaction. The University already has extensive experience of researching autonomous control systems in other industries most notably the mining and automotive sectors. Dr Kuosmanen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Tampere University of Technology, said:

“We have been working with Rolls-Royce, in the AAWA Project [Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative], on the development of remote controlled and autonomous ships since 2015. This collaboration moves us a step closer to making our vision of an autonomous vessel in operation a reality in the near future.”

In Sweden, Rolls-Royce has signed a deal with ferry group Stena Line with the purpose to collaborate in the development of its first intelligent awareness system. These systems aim to make vessels safer, easier and more efficient to operate by providing crew with an enhanced understanding of their vessel’s surroundings, achieved by fusing data from a range of sensors with information from existing ship systems such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and radar. Data from other sources, including global databases, will also have a role. Asbjørn Skaro, Rolls-Royce, Director Digital & Systems – Marine, said:

“We have been exploring and testing how to combine sensor technologies effectively and affordably for some time. Pilot projects such as this will allow us to see how they can be best adapted to the needs of a commercial vessel and its crew and allow us to develop a product which better serves both.

Rolls-Royce expects to be able to undertake an Approval of Concept and have its intelligent awareness product commercially available later in 2017.

In Singapore, Rolls-Royce and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a strategic partnership to develop smart ship technologies. The partners will work to develop fundamental technologies, such as smart sensing, digital twinning and integrated modelling which are essential to the development of future marine data based solutions. These developments will be applied to technology demonstrators to show how they can be used by specific ship types.

TCOMS is a joint venture between Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the National University of Singapore. The Centre is also supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Alongside Singapore’s existing expertise in digital ecosystems and electronics, TCOMS is constructing a next generation Deepwater Ocean Basin equipped with state-of-the art wave and current generation systems that could simulate harsh ocean environments, including those in ultra-deep waters. Scheduled for completion in 2019, the ocean basin facility will facilitate the development of innovative concepts including intelligent floating platforms and ships, autonomous systems, marine robotics and subsea systems.