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Rolls-Royce expands autonomous vessel partnerships

Rolls-Royce has signed three new Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with separate organisations in Europe and in Singapore, as it continues its quest to develop autonomous vessel technologies.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The first agreement is with MacGregor, part of Cargotec, which has signed an MOU to collaborate on research and development to explore the impact of developments in autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo handling systems on board container ships.

“MacGregor wants to reshape and transform the industry to make it much more efficient, safer and more sustainable,” said Pasi Lehtonen, senior vice president, strategy, business development and marketing, MacGregor.

“In the segments where we operate, we see a lot of unnecessary waste in the forms of inefficiency, damage to cargo, and continuously dangerous working conditions. Our aim is to minimise this waste from the value network and this collaboration on autonomy for container ships is a good example of where industry leaders work together to transform the industry.”

The next MoU is between Rolls-Royce and Tampere University of Technology in Finland, covering the development and testing of technology to support systems necessary for autonomous navigation, using the University’s purpose-built autonomous ship simulator.

Tampere University of Technology has existing research expertise in intelligent machines and networked systems, having worked on autonomous systems and how huge quantities of data can be analysed, processed and transferred during their operation, while also doing research on signal processing and human machine interaction.

The University also already has experience of researching autonomous control systems in other industries, most notably the mining and automotive sectors.

“We have been working with Rolls-Royce, in the AAWA Project, on the development of remote controlled and autonomous ships since 2015,” said Dr Kuosmanen, dean of the faculty of engineering sciences, Tampere University of Technology.

“This collaboration moves us a step closer to making our vision of an autonomous vessel in operation a reality in the near future.”

In Singapore meanwhile, the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) has also signed an MoU with Rolls-Royce regarding the development of smart ship technologies, such as smart sensing, digital twinning and integrated modelling.

These research areas are seen as being essential to the development of future marine data based solutions, and will be applied to technology demonstrators to show how they can be used by specific ship types.

“TCOMS is in a unique position to enable synergy between industry, research institutions and academia for the advancement of the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) industry,” said Professor Chan Eng Soon, CEO of TCOMS.

“We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Rolls-Royce, where we will co-create innovative solutions in smart ship technologies, and play a pivotal role in elevating Singapore’s position as a key hub for M&OE research globally.”

TCOMS is a joint venture between Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the National University of Singapore. The Centre is also supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

TCOMS is currently constructing a new Deepwater Ocean Basin equipped with wave and current generation systems to simulate harsh ocean environments. Scheduled for completion in 2019, the facility will be used to assist in the development of concepts including autonomous ship systems.{/mprestriction}

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