Rolls-Royce is going be leading an all new project that might potentially pave the way for autonomous vessels. The €6.6-million Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative is going to create the specification and preliminary designs regarding the next advanced ship solutions generation.

The Finish Funding Agency For Technology and Innovation, Tekes, is to provide the necessary funds, as the project brings together ship designers, universities, classification societies and equipment manufacturers for them to explore the social, economic, regulatory, legal and technological factors which are in need of addressing in order to turn autonomous ships from a mere concept to a real thing.

Rolls-Royce Leading Autonomous Vessel Research Project

Image: Deltamarin

According to schedule the project is to be effective till 2017’s end and is going to lay down the foundations for solutions aiming to validate the research results of the project. The initiative is going to contribute for a combination of the expertise of some of the top academic researches Finland has to offer from Tampere University of Technology, Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd., the University of Turku, Abo Akademi University and the leading members of the maritime industry such as NAPA, Rolls-Royce, DNVL GL, Deltamarin and Inmarsat.

“This project presents us with a great opportunity to certify Finland’s maritime cluster as the leader in the global field of maritime remote control technology,” commented Rauli Hulkkonen, Chief Advisor for Tekes.

“Rolls-Royce has a perfect track record for successful coordination of multi-disciplinary teams in the development of complex technology systems. We provide for a world leading position in the provision of marine market capabilities to the project such as vessel design, the supply and support of propulsion equipment and power as well as the installation of complex systems. We are filled up with excitement to be able to make these first steps towards bringing the concept of controlled and autonomous vessel applications into reality,” said Esa Jokioinen, who is in charge of the Blue Ocean Team, Rolls-Royce.

The project is going to take into consideration research conducted to date exploring the field of safety and security implications regarding the design and operation of remotely operated vessels, the business case for autonomous applications, the supplier network’s readiness to deliver commercial applicable products in both the short and medium term, as well as the legal and regulatory implications. Rolls-Royce is to lead the technological work stream that is going to feature deck machinery and automation and control, the implications of remote control and autonomy of vessels for propulsion and established technology for the purposes of rapid commercialization.

The Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean team is to cover the aspects of research and development regarding future maritime technology systems and to focus on disruptive potentially game-changing innovations. By trying to combine new technologies with all new approaches to vessel design and integration of systems, the team is aiming to minimize emission levels, reduce operational expenditures and strengthen vessels’ earning capability. The team has managed to develop an array of autonomous vessel concepts along with some various innovative ship designs.