Autonomous Ships

Ships that can operate themselves are in our future. Solving navigation and normal operations problems are not difficult with modern technology. Adapting “fly-by-wire” methodology from aviation to ocean going ships will allow all the ships systems to be controlled from a computer interface instead of manual controls. In fact, many modern ships are already in various states of this transition and most already use modern GPS based navigation systems.

The problems become more complex when parameters go outside of normal. We can load up ships with sensors that relay information on everything that happens on board back to a ground based control center which can take over via remote control when needed. Robotic devices can implement many repairs while the ship is still underway at sea. But there will still need to be backup systems for emergencies when most of the communications processes fail.

In the short term, including a pair of redundant pilots who normally just monitor regular status is an obvious solution. The pilots would offer human intervention when it is needed, without adding too much overhead to the cost of operating the ship.

Rolls-Royce future shore control centre

– [youtube.com]

Rolls-Royce presents a vision of a future land-based control centre in which a small crew of 7 to 14 people monitor and control a fleet of remote controlled and autonomous vessels across the world. The crew uses interactive smart screens, voice recognition systems, holograms and surveillance drones to monitor what is happening both on board and around the ship.

Remote and autonomous ships are one of three elements of the company’s innovative Ship Intelligence strategy, which will enable customers to transform their marine businesses by harnessing the power of big data.

The film marks the final stage of research that will inform the design and construction of an effective remote operations centre which is essential to the company’s plans to develop autonomous and remote controlled vessels.
The film is the latest in a series to present Rolls-Royce’s vision of future shipping known as the ‘oX’ operator experience concept and introduced in 2014. Previous studies have looked at the user experience of future command bridges on Platform Supply Vessels, container ships and tugs

The research was undertaken by VTT and University of Tampere research centre TAUCHI (Tampere Unit for Computer Human Interaction) in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. It explored the lessons learned from other industries where remote operation is commonplace, such as aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration.

Remote and Autonomous Ships – The next steps

SEE ALSO:
Robotic Space Tugs
Drones That Don’t Fly

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