(MCLEAN, Va.) — Iridium Communications Inc. announced Thursday the signing of a letter of intent with Rolls-Royce Marine (RRM) in support of its autonomous vessel development program. Through this arrangement, RRM and Iridium will work together to explore incorporating Iridium’s next-generation L-band satellite broadband service, Iridium Certus into the RRM suite of ship intelligence solutions. By doing so, RRM will have broadband capability that can serve as a standalone option or high throughput backup, while expanding the reach of autonomous vessels to all the world’s waterways.
As a leader in the autonomous vessel movement, RRM’s solutions deliver multifaceted enhancements to ships, enabling remote diagnostics, operations and performance monitoring capabilities. Among many offerings, these solutions provide remote access to onshore operators and control centers, delivering real-time connectivity and automation. By automating processes such as navigation, crew are able to focus on more valuable areas of vessel operations helping to streamline overall functionality, ushering in a new digital era of shipping.
A strategic part of the maritime industry’s future, autonomous ships are being examined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), where it is defining the regulatory environment and degrees of autonomy for maritime autonomous surface ships. The capabilities offered by Iridium Certus will help streamline management of vessel operations, whether for command and control, engine diagnostics, tracking information and other onboard processes for a simple, secure and reliable experience.
Iridium operates the world’s largest, and only pole-to-pole, mobile commercial satellite constellation. The network is comprised of 66 cross-linked LEO satellites. The Iridium network enables a portfolio of maritime applications, including voice and data communications, and is poised to boost these capabilities with Iridium Certus. Enabled by Iridium NEXT, the company’s next-generation, $3 billion satellite constellation, Iridium Certus will provide high quality voice capabilities, alongside enterprise-grade broadband functionality, for the entire planet, whether on land, in the air or at sea. The service, planned for commercial availability in 2018, will soon after deliver the fastest L-band satellite broadband speeds on the market, through small-form-factor, cost-effective terminals. Initial service offering speeds will debut at 352 Kbps and will later be upgradable to 704 Kbps with a firmware upgrade.