Rolls Royce lauds autonomous ship

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

06 February 2017

The fully autonomous ships are not just safer than crewed vessels; they’re cheaper, faster and more importantly, inevitable, Rolls Royce’s vice president of Innovation, Engineering and Technology Oskar Levander said in an article posted on IEEE.

For Rolls Royce, autonomous shipping is the natural next step—they already plan to release an autonomous remote-controlled cargo ship by 2020. The marine branch of Rolls Royce is joining Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications in Finland to continue to develop the technology necessary to complete this transition.

Senior vice president Jay McFadden claims that the ship will “have the capability to integrate autonomously with the rest of the infrastructure – to moor and dock in port, unload and offload cargo.”

With autonomous ship, the crews of today will diminish and will be replaced by centralized command centers in which a fleet of ships will be controlled. Levander said that an un-crewed ship will fundamentally change the way ships are designed. Without humans, there’ll be no need for crew compartments, sewage and water systems, heating systems, etc.

Piracy, at least in the traditional sense, will cease to be a concern because the ships can be designed in such a way that pirates can’t even get in. Even if they did, it’s not like they’ll have access to the controls.