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Rolls-Royce to Lead Autonomous Ship Research Project

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Rolls-Royce is to lead a new €6.6 million project that could pave the way for autonomous ships. The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative will produce the specification and preliminary designs for the next generation of advanced ship solutions.

The project is funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) and will bring together universities, ship designers, equipment manufacturers, and classification societies to explore the economic, social, legal, regulatory and technological factors which need to be addressed to make autonomous ships a reality.

The project will run until the end of 2017 and will pave the way for solutions - designed to validate the project’s research. The project will combine the expertise of some of Finland’s top academic researchers from Tampere University of Technology; VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd; Åbo Akademi University; Aalto University; the University of Turku; and leading members of the maritime cluster including Rolls-Royce, NAPA, Deltamarin, DNV GL and Inmarsat.

Rauli Hulkkonen, Tekes, Chief Advisor, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to establish the Finnish maritime cluster as the world leader in maritime remote control technology.

Esa Jokioinen, Rolls-Royce, Head of Blue Ocean Team, said: “Rolls-Royce has extensive experience of successfully coordinating multi-disciplinary teams developing complex technologies. 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. We are excited to be taking the first concrete steps towards making remote controlled and autonomous ship applications a reality.

The wide ranging project will look at research carried out to date before exploring the business case for autonomous applications, the safety and security implications of designing and operating remotely operated ships, the legal and regulatory implications and the existence and readiness of a supplier network able to deliver commercially applicable products in the short to medium term. The technological work stream, which will be led by Rolls-Royce, will encompass the implications of  remote control and autonomy of ships for propulsion, deck machinery and automation and control, using, where possible, established technology for rapid commercialisation.

The Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean team is responsible for research and development of future maritime technologies and focuses on disruptive game-changing innovations. By combining new 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 developed a range of autonomous ship concepts as well as innovative designs for various ship types.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  1. Rolls-Royce’s vision is to create better power for a changing world via two main business divisions, Aerospace and Land & Sea. These business divisions address markets with two strong technology platforms, gas turbines and reciprocating engines. Aerospace comprises Civil Aerospace and Defence Aerospace. Land & Sea comprises Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems.
  2. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 120 countries, comprising more than 380 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
  3. Our business is focused on the 4Cs:
    • Customer – placing the customer at the heart of our business
    • Concentration – deciding where to grow and where not to
    • Cost – continually looking to increase efficiency
    • Cash – improving financial performance.
  4. Annual underlying revenue was £14.6 billion in 2014, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £73.7 billion at the end of 2014.
  5. In 2014, Rolls-Royce invested £1.2 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  6. Rolls-Royce employs over 54,000 people in more than 50 countries. Over 15,500 of these are engineers.
  7. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2014 we employed 354 graduates and 357 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes. Globally we have over 1,000 Rolls-Royce STEM ambassadors who are actively involved in education programmes and activities; we have set ourselves a target to reach 6 million people through our STEM outreach activities by 2020.

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