Rolls-Royce has announced the latest stage in its research and development plans to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality and reap the benefits of increasing digitalisation in the marine industry. The company says it is looking to develop partnerships and opportunities with other organisations around the world to create the capability, competencies and jobs to supply the technology and components required.
Today, the latest part of that programme has been confirmed with the announcement, in Finland, of a significant research grant by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. The funding will enable Rolls-Royce to invest further in a research and development centre in Turku, Finland. The company plans to carry out further development projects there focused on the future development of land-based control centres, and the use of artificial intelligence in future remote and autonomous shipping operations.
Mikael Mäkinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Marine said:
“Digitalisation will transform the shipping industry in the years ahead, and the time is now right to set out how we are going to make this happen. Over the coming years we need to invest globally to develop the required capabilities and to establish a range of market-ready products and systems to take advantage of what is a significant global market opportunity.
“By combining our world leading capability and knowledge, with a clear plan of where we need to go next, we can work with our customers, governments and our global academic research network to develop and bring to market the advanced technology, products and supporting services needed both ‘on-vessel’ and ‘on-shore’ to make our vision of future remote and autonomous ships a reality.”
In Norway, the company is currently investing in a range of R&D projects, which will include a new Marine Fleet Management Centre in Aalesund, to allow remote monitoring, data analysis, optimisation of ships and their on board equipment. The centre will allow Rolls-Royce to extend its ‘Power by the Hour’ concept, already proven in its Aerospace business, to serve the marine sector. ‘Power by the Hour’ is a new service to be delivered from the Marine division of Rolls-Royce which makes use of ‘big data’ to monitor, plan and perform maintenance and repairs on onboard ship equipment.
Asbjørn Skaro, Rolls-Royce, Director, Digital & Systems – Marine, added: “We are pleased to see the establishment of a centre for Remote Control & Autonomous Ships in Finland, and welcome the continued support from Tekes. We are looking at further funding and capability opportunities in countries including Finland, Norway, UK and Singapore to develop our ship intelligence technology and build customer partnerships worldwide.
“By drawing on our existing capabilities in our Marine business, together with the global expertise we have across the Rolls-Royce Group and our relationships with partners, we believe we can secure up to £200m of investment to revolutionise shipping.”
About Rolls-Royce and autonomous shipping
Rolls-Royce is pioneering the development of remote controlled and autonomous ships, applying technology, skills and experience from across its businesses with the ambition of seeing a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade. Rolls-Royce’s experience in secure data analytics across civil aerospace, defence, nuclear power and marine; coupled with its ship intelligence capabilities, design, propulsion and machinery expertise means it is ideally placed to take the lead in defining the future of shipping, in collaboration with industry, academia and Government.
The Marine division of Rolls-Royce already has strategic partnerships with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, together with numerous collaboration projects with SMEs and start-ups specialising in novel technologies.