7 years ago

Drone ships: Rolls-Royce developing futuristic fleet of semi-autonomous ships - TomoNews

TomoNews US
TomoNews US
LONDON — Rolls-Royce has unveiled plans for a fleet of unmanned, remote controlled ship to hit the seas in 2020.

The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) Initiative, led by Rolls-Royce, is a €6.6 million project funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) that will provide preliminary specifications and designs for next generation advance ships.

To begin, the ships will carry freight and be controlled from a central control center by a small crew of seven to 14 people. The crew will use interactive smart screens, voice recognition systems, holograms and surveillance drones to monitor what is happening both on board and around the ships.

The ships can operate in two main modes: remote control and autonomous mode. When in remote control, ships can be controlled using a device similar to a joystick. In this mode, the operator controls speed and direction and is privy to the boat’s relative position to objects nearby.

When in autonomous mode, ships will execute planned missions, like navigating to the next waypoint, on their own. In this mode, the operator is limited to receiving data such as location, speed, headway and ETA to end point. In this mode, operators are able to monitor more ships at one time.

Additionally, more information will be provided should a ship stray from its original plan due to unforeseen circumstances. Different levels of operator interaction will be requested depending on various scenarios.

In a white paper published in June, researchers concluded that drone ships should operate on a hybrid of both remote control and autonomous mode. The technology required to create such ships are already in existence. Currently, researchers are working on a concept demonstration to be completed by 2017 and a full scale development for commercial use to be completed by 2020.

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