It’s no secret that Rolls-Royce is working on autonomous ships for commercial use (read: self-operating cargo ships) — we heard about them years ago, and work on them has been relatively quiet since. That changed this month, with Rolls-Royce detailing what it envisions the future will hold in this regard; there will be the autonomous ships themselves, of course, but also control centers where the ships are monitored and controlled. If the company’s concept video and photos are anything to go by, these control centers will be insanely futuristic.
In late 2013, Rolls-Royce estimated that there could be drone ships in operation in a decade. This week, the company detailed something arguably more ambitious: “We will see a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade,” according to Rolls-Royce Vice President of Innovation Oskar Levander. Speaking at the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium 2016 in Amsterdam, he elaborated:
This is happening. It’s not if, it’s when. The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist. The AAWA project is testing sensor arrays in a range of operating and climatic conditions in Finland and has created a simulated autonomous ship control system which allows the behaviour of the complete communication system to be explored.
The company has published a new whitepaper titled “Remote & Autonomous Ships — The next steps” [PDF] in which it details, among other things, regulations hurdles it has to overcome. The company has talked about this in the past, and has detailed the current state of matters in its paper. Be sure to check it out for all the fine details.
Joining that whitepaper is the following video (first introduced in late March) showing an estimation of what the control center behind these ships may look like: