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  March 30th, 2017 | Written by

Rolls-Royce Moving on Autonomous, Smart Shipping

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  • Rolls-Royce and MacGregor will explore the impact of autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo handling.
  • Rolls-Royce and Tampere University will develop technology for autonomous navigation.
  • Rolls-Royce and TCOMS formed a strategic partnership to develop smart ship technologies.

Rolls-Royce announced three developments in its autonomous and smart shipping efforts this week.

Rolls-Royce and MacGregor signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the impact of developments in autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo handling systems on-board container ships. The collaboration will harness both companies’ unique experience laying the groundwork for the development of autonomous container ships.

Rolls-Royce and Tampere University of Technology, Finland separately announced a strategic partnership to develop and test the technology to support systems necessary for autonomous navigation. Rolls-Royce and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) signed an MOU to form a strategic partnership to develop smart ship technologies.

“In the segments where we operate, we see a lot of unnecessary waste in the forms of inefficiency, damage to cargo, and continuously dangerous working conditions,” said Pasi Lehtonen, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Business Development and Marketing, MacGregor. “Our aim is to minimize this waste from the value network and this collaboration on autonomy for container ships is a good example of where industry leaders work together to transform the industry.”

“Rolls-Royce believes 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,” said Asbjørn Skaro, director of Digital and systems at Rolls-Royce. “For the full benefits of such a change to be realized many activities currently done today manually will need to be done autonomously. This research will help us explore how that might be achieved.”

Rolls-Royce and Tamprere University will work towards developing 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 already has extensive experience of researching autonomous control systems in other industries most notably the mining and automotive sectors.

Rolls-Royce and TCOMS will work on research 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.

“By developing demonstrator technology around sensors, data analytics and the Marine Internet of Things,” said Kevin Daffey, director of engineering and technology at Rolls-Royce, “we will see ships become more reliable, more efficient and more closely integrated into global supply chains generating cost savings and improving revenue generation.”

TCOMS is a joint venture between Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the National University of Singapore. TCOMS is constructing a next generation Deepwater Ocean Basin that could simulate harsh ocean environments, including those in ultra-deep waters, scheduled for completion in 2019.