Rolls-Royce and the European Space Agency to Collaborate on Shipping’s Digital Future

Rolls-Royce and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement to pursue space activities for autonomous, remote controlled shipping, aiming to promote innovation in European digital logistics.

space

The collaboration with Rolls-Royce aims to develop and validate new solutions for communication between vessel systems and shore based systems in addition to ship-to-ship communication. This is expected to enable the operation of commercial remote and autonomous shipping, innovative cargo logistics, smart ports and future commercial marine vessels.

In addition, the next generation of 5G communications will rely on seamless integration of telecom networks and services, and ESA’s Satellite for 5G Initiative (artes.esa.int/satellite-5g) will support the technical and supply chain progress required, and follow through to support development of the commercial services that this enables.

According to Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce, SVP Ship Intelligence, the current wireless carriers like satellite and associated infrastructure need to be developed to facilitate the development of remote & autonomous ships, as existing configurations were not designed for this purpose.

- Rolls-Royce and the ESA will look at developing satellite-based positioning for ‘smart’ ships which will be based on its ‘earth observation platform’. This could create greater spatial and situational awareness for those operating the vessel remotely. It will also allow satellites to capture and share the data from a number of vessels simultaneously, he said.

The two partners also plan to cooperate in harnessing the power of big data, as Data analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve operational efficiency, reliability and safety. Sensor data will inform augmented and virtual realities, or “digital twins”. A digital twin is an AI copy of a ship, including its systems, that synthesises the information available about the ship in a hologram, allowing any aspect of an asset to be explored through a digital interface.

- Space 4.0 and ESA’s Satellite for 5G Initiative enable, support and foster developments, validations and trials of products and applications in diverse areas of the maritime industry, and this partnership between the European Space Agency and Rolls-Royce will enable satellites to serve ship intelligence, marine operations, navigation, cargo logistics, maritime safety, healthcare, passenger and crew communications, summarised Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General.

R&D | 1.12.2017

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