British engineering giant Rolls-Royce will lead a €6.6m research project providing bases for the development of future autonomous ships.
Called the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative, the project will focus on specifications and preliminary designs as well as on economic, social, legal and regulatory aspects related to the operation of autonomous ships.
“Rolls-Royce has extensive experience of successfully coordinating multi-disciplinary teams developing complex technologies,” said Esa Jokioinen, the head of Rolls-Royce’s Blue Ocean Team, which specialises in research and development of future maritime technologies and disruptive game-changing innovations.
“We bring a world leading range of capabilities in the marine market to the project including vessel design, the integration of complex systems and the supply and support of power and propulsion equipment,” Jokioinen said.
In its early stages, the project - scheduled to run until the end of 2017 - will assess previous research in the field. Subsequently, it will consider the business case for remotely operated ships, including safety and legal and regulatory implications.
Rolls-Royce will be in charge of the technological work, focusing on remote control and autonomy, propulsion, deck machinery and automation and control.
To speed up commercialisation, the project partners said they will focus on existing and established technology.
By combining existing technologies with new approaches to ship design and system integration, the team aims to reduce operational costs, minimise emissions and enhance the earning capability of vessels. The team has previously developed a range of autonomous ship concepts as well as innovative designs for various ship types.
The project is funded by Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and includes universities of Alto and Turku, Tampere University of Technology, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Åbo Akademi University, the UK satellite operator Inmarsat, NAPA, Deltamarin and DNV GL.
“This project is a fantastic opportunity to establish the Finnish maritime cluster as the world leader in maritime remote control technology,” said Rauli Hulkkonen, Tekes, Chief Advisor.