Rolls-Royce and VTT join forces on autonomous ship development

Rolls-Royce and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd have announced a strategic partnership to design, test and validate the first generation of remote and autonomous ships.

Rolls-Royce says autonomous ships will be in commercial use in a decade’s time

Rolls-Royce is pioneering the development of remote controlled and autonomous ships and believes a remote controlled ship will be in commercial use by the end of the decade.

The company is already leading the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), a project which brings together a host of industry and academic partners and aims to make autonomous ships a reality. In a paper published earlier this year (June 2016) outlining its vision for autonomous ships, the company argued that autonomous technology will enable a fundamental shift in the way that ships are designed and operated, enabling them to carry far more cargo.

Rolls-Royce said that the new relationship with VTT will enable it to tap into Finnish centre’s expertise in both ship simulation and the management of safety-critical and complex systems in demanding environments. What’s more, thanks to its work with the telecommunications sector, VTT has extensive experience of working with 5G mobile phone technology and wi-fi mesh networks.

The firm added that working with VTT will enable it to assess the performance of remote and autonomous designs through the use of both traditional model tank tests and digital simulation, allowing the company to develop functional, safe and reliable prototypes.

Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce, Vice President Ship Intelligence, said: “Remotely operated ships are a key development project for Rolls-Royce Marine, and VTT is a reliable and innovative partner for the development of a smart ship concept. This collaboration is a natural continuation of the earlier User Experience for Complex systems (UXUS) project, where we developed totally new bridge and remote control systems for shipping.”

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