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Iridium to support autonomous ship development

Iridium reports that it has signed a Letter of Intent with Rolls-Royce Marine (RRM), currently in the process of being acquired by Kongsberg, to support RRM’s autonomous vessel development programme by integrating L-band satellite services on Iridium’s forthcoming Certus network into the RRM range of Ship Intelligence systems.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}“When evaluating partners for our remote and autonomous vessel development programme and Ship Intelligence solutions, Iridium is complementing our connectivity strategy for a number of reasons,” said Kenneth Solberg, technical product manager, ship intelligence, Rolls-Royce Marine.

“Their new interconnected Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network is able to provide global coverage with low latencies for both coastal and ocean going vessels, while at the same time having the robustness of the L-band. And being an actor with truly global coverage, including polar regions, vessel owners will have the confidence that wherever they sail their ship, it will stay connected.”

“The small form-factor antennas and terminals enabled by Iridium Certus have no moving parts, reducing the risk of breakdowns, and are built to withstand the harsh conditions at sea. The journey of enabling Iridium Certus to be compliant with RR remote and autonomous operational requirements sets the stage for an exciting offering that we look forward to begin exploring.”

Certus is planned for commercial availability before the end of 2018, with initial service offering speeds of 352 kbps that will later be upgradable to 704 Kbps with a firmware upgrade. 

“Enabling the digitalisation of shipping is at the core of our strategy for our maritime business, and we are proud to begin exploring this opportunity with Rolls-Royce Marine,” said Wouter Deknopper, vice president and general manager, maritime at Iridium.

“Iridium's constellation is an ideal network to support autonomous vessels, due to its inherent resiliency, mobility and truly global coverage. Supporting RRM's revolutionary autonomous vessel initiative is a natural and exciting next step that we are fully equipped to take.”

In related news, Rolls-Royce has also announced an expansion to its ship intelligence range with the introduction of a Health Management system for ship equipment, which uses ship data combined with machine learning techniques to manage the operational health and performance of all the machinery installed on board.

“Our ambition is to ensure that customers are able to take more informed decisions about maintenance of the most critical components on their vessels, with the help of the latest secure technology,” said Marco Cristoforo Camporeale, Rolls-Royce, VP intelligent asset management – ship intelligence.

“The Health Management system from Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine will help ship operators to extend availability, as there will be less planned off-hire for maintenance. The system will also reduce ownership costs.”

“Another key benefit is that Health Management will increase safety, by detecting anomalies on mission critical components at an earlier stage, helping the crew to take preventative measures to avoid incidents and unplanned off-hire.”

The Health Management technology integrates both performance and health management data, so users can understand how an anomaly in the propulsion system can influence performance in other areas, for instance fuel consumption, and vice-versa.

A secure end-to-end platform collects, transfers, stores, and evaluates the data before encapsulating the information into machine learning models that are relayed back to the ship. End-users then have real-time access to information regarding the health of their onboard equipment and systems.

The information is presented on a mobile dashboard on board the ship, with the same information also sent through to a customer portal shore-side, where the company’s support personnel and data scientists can further analyse the data.

The first contract for the service has already been signed, with thrusters, generators and engines on Awilco’s recently-announced newbuild semi-submersible rig to be covered by the system.{/mprestriction}

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