Self-Driving Ships
A concept illustration of an autonomous Rolls-Royce vessel. | Image: Rolls-Royce

After self-driving cars, now its time for the self-driving ships. Rolls-Royce has announced a partnership with Intel as part of the engineering firm’s mission to build fully autonomous ships and is expected to launch by 2025.

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Rolls-Royce And Intel On Self-Driving Ships 

Rolls has been working on autonomous shipping technology since the early 2010s. The company has launched its Intelligent Awareness system for crewed vessels earlier this year, as a first towards the self-driving ships.

Self Driving Ship 2
Rolls-Royce’s Intelligent Awareness system coordinates data from multiple systems to tell the crew about nearby vessels and obstacles.

The system is comprised of a network of cameras, LIDAR, and radar, which is controlled by a central program. This program looks for obstacles like other ships and sends automated alerts to the crew, thanks to the machine vision algorithms. So, Rolls-Royce will use Intel’ 3D NAND solid-state drives to store the data from this network (up to 1 terabyte is generated each day) and Xeon chips to process it.

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Well, the Intelligent Awareness system can automatically classify nearby ships, whether they’re pleasure craft, cruise ships, tankers, or tugs. The system has the capability which enables better visibility in poor weather conditions by combining and centralizing data from multiple sources

Self-Driving Ship
A concept illustration of the Intelligent Awareness system.

The LIDAR system gets real-time accurate measurements of how far the ship is from its berth and if any other ship comes near, it sets off an alarm, which is quite essential.  Currently, this system is being tested in a handful of ships, including a ferry in Japan, and Rolls-Royce has begun selling it more widely. Well, this is clearly the first step towards self-driving ships.


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