Rolls-Royce signs new agreements to advance autonomous shipping

Pr 27 03 2017

The following is the text of three March 27 news releases from Rolls-Royce PLC:

(LONDON) — Rolls-Royce and Tampere University of Technology, Finland, have announced a strategic partnership to develop and test the technology to support systems necessary for autonomous navigation, enabling the first generation of autonomous ships.

The partners will work toward developing and validating technologies using the university’s purpose-built autonomous ship simulator.

Tampere University of Technology has extensive research expertise in intelligent machines and networked systems. The university’s research into autonomous systems looks at how huge quantities of data can be analyzed, processed, and transferred. The university already has extensive experience of researching autonomous control systems in other industries, most notably the mining and automotive sectors.

Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce senior vice president, Ship Intelligence, said, “Rolls-Royce is pioneering remotely controlled and autonomous ships and believes such a remote-controlled ship will be in commercial use by the end of the decade. Tampere University of Technology is an innovative and experienced partner who can help us develop autonomous systems that will redefine shipping.”

Dr. Kuosmanen, dean of the faculty of engineering sciences, Tampere University of Technology, said, “We have been working with Rolls-Royce, in the AAWA Project, on the development of remote-controlled and autonomous ships since 2015. This collaboration moves us a step closer to making our vision of an autonomous vessel in operation a reality in the near future.”


Rolls-Royce and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) announced Monday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a strategic partnership to develop smart-ship technologies.

The partners will work on world-leading research to develop fundamental technologies, such as smart sensing, digital twinning and integrated modeling, which are essential to the development of future marine data-based solutions. These developments will be applied to technology demonstrators to show how they can be used by specific ship types.

TCOMS is a joint venture between Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the National University of Singapore. The center is also supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. Through strategic global partnerships with industry, research institutions and academia, TCOMS aims to sustain Singapore’s leadership position in the sector by enabling the local M&OE industry to undertake higher-value activities.

Alongside Singapore’s existing expertise in digital ecosystems and electronics, TCOMS is constructing a next-generation deepwater ocean basin equipped with the latest wave and current generation systems that could simulate harsh ocean environments, including those in ultra-deep waters. Scheduled for completion in 2019, the ocean basin facility will facilitate the development of innovative concepts including intelligent floating platforms and ships, autonomous systems, marine robotics and subsea systems.


Rolls-Royce and MacGregor, part of Cargotec, have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on research and development to explore the impact of developments in autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo handling systems on board containerships. This collaboration will harness both companies’ unique experience laying the groundwork for the development of autonomous containerships.

Pasi Lehtonen, senior vice president of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing for MacGregor, said, “MacGregor wants to reshape and transform the industry to make it much more efficient, safer and more sustainable. 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 minimize this waste from the value network and this collaboration on autonomy for containerships is a good example of where industry leaders work together to transform the industry.”

Asbjorn Skaro, Rolls-Royce director, Digital and Systems, said: “Rolls-Royce is pioneering remotely controlled and autonomous ships and believes such a remote-controlled ship will be in commercial use by the end of the decade and a common sight on the high seas by 2030. For the full benefits of such a change to be realized many activities currently done today manually will need to be done autonomously. This research will help us explore how that might be achieved.

“As a leading provider of cargo-handling solutions and services for container ships, MacGregor brings a detailed knowledge of the cargo sector and can provide valuable insights into marine cargo operations and the technology and systems needed to make them as efficient and safe as possible.”

By Professional Mariner Staff