Dezeen Magazine

Rolls-Royce touts remote-controlled cargo ship as "future of the maritime industry"

Engineering company Rolls-Royce has revealed concept designs for an autonomous ship that could be managed remotely from a control centre (+ slideshow).

A video released by the company shows possible designs for its oX control room, which includes a global wall that could show a real-time overview of global shipping traffic.

Rolls Royce unveil autonomous cargo ship concept

Operators would be able to monitor vessels by a remote link, carry out diagnostics and deploy drones to perform further inspections.

"Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry" said Mikael Makinen, president of Rolls-Royce's marine division, in a white paper published by the company. "As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionise the landscape of ship design and operations."

Rolls Royce unveil autonomous cargo ship concept

The video suggests that operators would be able to collaborate at workstations that project three-dimensional displays of a ship's mechanics, allowing engineers and technicians to fix issues remotely.

Rolls Royce unveil autonomous cargo ship concept

Rolls-Royce's vice president of marine innovation, Oskar Levander, who unveiled the concepts at this year's Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium in Amsterdam, said the company expected to see this kind of remote-controlled ship in use by the end of the decade.

"This is happening," said Levander, "It's not if, it's when. The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist."

Rolls Royce unveil autonomous cargo ship concept

The concepts are part of the company's Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) programme, which is currently testing its sensors and controls in a variety of operating and climatic conditions in Finland.

Rolls Royce unveil autonomous cargo ship concept

Rolls-Royce's motoring divison has also taken steps into the world of driverless cars, unveiling its first self-driving concept earlier this year. The vehicle included a built-in "red carpet" and lighting system that announces its arrival to bystanders.

A video released by Rolls-Royce showing concept designs for the autonomous ship

Other companies testing out autonomous transport include Google and Mercedes-Benz, which are both developing self-driving cars.