Rolls Royce is partnering with Intel with an ambition to build the first completely autonomous ship. The company announced on Monday that it is working with Intel to develop a full fleet of autonomous cargo vessels that require no humans onboard by 2025.
Rolls-Royce revealed its plans to deploy autonomous ships back in 2016, outlining its strategy and a general overview of how the vessels would work. Now, the ship designer — Rolls-Royce for shipping and Rolls-Royce the luxury automaker are separate corporate entities — has announced that it’s working with Intel to create cargo vessels that can navigate the oceans without a human crew onboard. Instead, the ships will have LIDAR, radar, thermal cameras and HD cameras as part of its intelligence awareness system. They’ll also have server rooms to power the company’s AI and to store the massive amounts of data all those sensors will collect.
Intel’s Field Programmable Gate Array technology will help Rolls-Royce solve design challenges and provide the components needed for obstacle detection and navigation. The ships’ AI will also rely on Intel’s Xeon Scalable processors for decision-making based on the information gathered by the sensors. And since those sensors can collect up to 1TB of data per day — data that the ships can’t upload to the cloud until it docks once a month or so — storage is a critical part of the system. Rolls-Royce will store that data on Intel’s 3D NAND SSDs that will act as the ships’ “black box” of sorts.
Details of the system
The system is packed with a large network full of cameras, radar, and LIDAR, which are controlled by a centralized program. With the help of vision algorithms, it can detect obstacles in night time and within the busy ports.
With the new deal that Rolls Royce has struck with Intel, the firms plan to use 3D NAND solid-state drives for storing the data that would come from this network and use Intel Xeon chips to process this information. The intelligent awareness system is a revolutionary next step in the technology because it will have the capacity to automatically classify any obstacles around it, that include tankers, ship, cruise, pleasure craft or tugs.
Additionally, it also helps in improving the visibility in case of adverse weather conditions because it combines data from several sources. It is immensely helpful in cases where the ship navigates in places like docks with close quarters.
Kevin Daffey, the director of ship intelligence of Rolls Royce, said: “We’re delighted to sign this agreement with Intel, and look forward to working together on developing exciting new technologies and products, which will play a big part in enabling the safe operation of autonomous ships.”
Benefits of the collaboration
Rolls Royce and Intel are champions in their respective fields. Therefore, the coming together of these two giants would result in a great design and in sophisticated, intelligent machinery in the autonomous ships.
This new collaboration will lead to advancement in ship technology with a smart, data-centric and connected system for cargo owners, ports, operators and ship owners.
“This collaboration can help us to support ship owners in the automation of their navigation and operations, reducing the opportunity for human error and allowing crews to focus on more valuable tasks,” Daffey added.
The focus of both the companies is on safety, and they aim to build these ships with the similar technology that is found in smart cities as well as autonomous drones and cars. This advancement is definitely a feat in the history of maritime technology.
This collaboration is only bound to work in the betterment of ships and vessels to empower them and make them more self-sufficient without the need for human intervention.