Rolls-Royce Announces Investment in Research and Development for Ship Intelligence

Rolls-Royce land-based control center concept.
Rolls-Royce land-based control center concept.

Rolls-Royce is taking the next step in autonomous technology with the announcement last week of its research and development plans to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality and reap the benefits of increasing digitalization in the marine industry.

The company is looking to develop partnerships and opportunities with other organizations around the world to create the capability, competencies and jobs to supply the technology and components required.

A significant research grant by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, will enable Rolls-Royce to invest further in a research and development center in Turku, Finland. The company plans to carry out further development projects there, which are focused on the future development of land-based control centers and the use of artificial intelligence in future remote and autonomous shipping operations.

Mikael Mäkinen, president of marine for Rolls-Royce, said in a statement: “Digitalization will transform the shipping industry in the years ahead, and the time is now right to set out how we are going to make this happen. Over the coming years we need to invest globally to develop the required capabilities and to establish a range of market-ready products and systems to take advantage of what is a significant global market opportunity.

“By combining our world leading capability and knowledge, with a clear plan of where we need to go next, we can work with our customers, governments and our global academic research network to develop and bring to market the advanced technology, products and supporting services needed both ‘on-vessel’ and ‘on-shore’ to make our vision of future remote and autonomous ships a reality.”

In Norway, the company currently is investing in a range of resource and development projects, which will include a new Marine Fleet Management Center in Aalesund to allow remote monitoring, data analysis, optimization of ships and their on board equipment. The center will allow Rolls-Royce to extend its “Power by the Hour” concept, already proven in its aerospace business to serve the marine sector. Power by the Hour is a new service to be delivered from the marine division of Rolls-Royce, which makes use of big data to monitor, plan and perform maintenance and repairs on onboard ship equipment.

Asbjørn Skaro, director, digital and systems–marine at Rolls Royce, added: “We are pleased to see the establishment of a Center for Remote Control & Autonomous Ships in Finland, and welcome the continued support from Tekes. We are looking at further funding and capability opportunities in countries including Finland, Norway, UK and Singapore to develop our ship intelligence technology and build customer partnerships worldwide.

“By drawing on our existing capabilities in our marine business, together with the global expertise we have across the Rolls-Royce Group and our relationships with partners, we believe we can secure up to $200 million of investment to revolutionize shipping.”