In anticipation for next month’s 40th annual Interferry conference that is to take place in Copenhagen, Oskar Levander, VP for innovation, made the prediction that the first ever remote-controlled ferry could be up and running within a 4-5-year time frame. According to him this can possibly be achieved with the help of a new wave of researches focusing on ship intelligence solutions as means of boosting operational efficiency.

Remote-Controlled Ferries In The Water By 2020

His strong belief is that ship intelligence is going to be a driving factor for the development of remote-controlled and autonomous solutions.

“Nowadays, we have a large number of R&D projects focusing on the aspects of unmanned airplanes and various driverless land-based vehicles and as a result of that our society is becoming more and more prepared for accepting these unique solutions. Time is the only factor in the matter of when shipping is going to venture into this new era,” he said.

He further added that there is a high chance for the first unmanned commercial vessels to be locally operated ships due to the fact the single flag states can permit them to operate before international regulations come to power. He believes that ferries are going to be the most suitable choice for adopting the technology in the beginning as they can function within a confined region and there is also a clear desire among ship operators for addressing the issue of crew expenditures.

Rolls-Royce’s new €6.6 million ($7.3 million) project (funds for which are provided by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation)) is going to bring together vessel designers, universities, classification societies and equipment manufacturers among others. It will play a large role in paving the way for autonomous vessels.

The project is to run until 2017’s end. Rolls-Royce is set to lead the technological work stream that is going to encompass the aspects of remote control and ship autonomy for deck machinery, propulsion, automation and control and establishing technology for the purposes of rapid commercialization.