Rolls-Royce and Stena Line to develop intelligent awareness for ships

Rolls-Royce has signed a deal with Swedish ferry company Stena Line, to collaborate in the development of its first intelligent awareness system.

Intelligent awareness systems will make vessels safer, easier and more efficient to operate by providing crew with an enhanced understanding of their vessel’s surroundings. This will be achieved by fusing data from a range of sensors with information from existing ship systems; such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and radar. Data from other sources, including global databases, will also have a role.

Asbjørn Skaro, Rolls-Royce, director digital & systems – marine, said: “We have been exploring and testing how to combine sensor technologies effectively and affordably for some time. Pilot projects such as this will allow us to see how they can be best adapted to the needs of a commercial vessel and its crew and allow us to develop a product which better serves both.”

Pilots and product development programmes such as this are an important step towards the further development of remote and autonomous vessels and meeting Rolls-Royce’s goal of having a remote-controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.

Harry Robertsson, technical director at Stena Teknik, said: “This project gives us an opportunity to explore how new technologies can be integrated with the systems we already have on-board and to provide a more informed view of a vessel’s surroundings in an accessible and user friendly way. This will give our crew an enhanced decision support tool, increasing the safety of our vessels.”

Rolls-Royce expects to be able to undertake an Approval of Concept and have its intelligent awareness product commercially available later in 2017.

The intelligent awareness system will benefit from Rolls-Royce’s experience in the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) project, which has been running since June 2015. The company has been conducting a series of tests of sensor arrays in a range of operating and climatic conditions on board Finferries’ 65metre double ended ferry, Stella, which operates between Korpo and Houtskär in the Archipelago Sea on the southwest coast of Finland.