ShippingWatch

Rolls-Royce looking to launch unmanned vessels in 2020

Unmanned vessels from Rolls-Royce will be ready for deployment by as early as 2020, report British media. Smaller tugboats and ferries will likely be the first to start operating without crews on board.

Model for unmanned Rolls-Royce vessel.

Some three years from now it will be possible to sail on unmanned or autonomous vessels from Rolls-Royce.

The new 2020 launch date is earlier than the date previously announced by Rolls-Royce, including in statements to ShippingWatch, namely that the company expected to be ready to embark on unmanned sailing by 2025.

According to several British media, the autonomous Rolls-Royce ships will be able to cut the costs of seaborne transport by up to 20 percent, and the first vessel types to sail without crews on board will likely be smaller tugs and ferries.

"The development will start in a few countries, and these flag states will give the vessel permission to operate before we have international regulations in place," says Oskar Levander, vice president of innovation at Rolls-Royce.

As ShippingWatch has previously reported, Rolls-Royce is part of a collaboration aimed at developing autonomous vessels, a venture that includes Wärtsilä, ABB, Ericsson, Cargotec, and Meyer Turku. The project is supported by Finnish innovation fund Tekes.

Raises questions concerning legislation

The use of unmanned vessels raises many questions similar to the questions related to the debate concerning driverless cars. For instance, it needs to be clarified who is liable in the case of accidents, just as it has raised significant concerns among certain unions representing seafarers that the introduction of unmanned vessels could result in far less available jobs.

Furthermore, the prospect of autonomous vessels will require international regulations concerning the use of such vessels.

"Without a crew on board, all of the procedures currently carried out by people will be complimented by technology that can handle things on its own, such as extinguishing fires, providing ventilation in the cargo hold, handling systems in the engine room, and so on," said Sauli Eloranta, senior vice president of Rolls-Royce Marine's division for technology and innovation, in an interview with ShippingWatch in October.

Rolls-Royce's vessels will likely not be the first unmanned vessels hitting the water, as the companies Kongsberg Maritime and Automated Ships plan to launch an unmanned vessel already in 2018.

The world's first unmanned offshore vessel operational in 2018

Norway establishes first testing area for unmanned vessels

Autonomous feeder vessels could hit the Baltic Sea in 2025

Maritime officers prepare for unmanned vessels

Frontpage right now

Lauritzen CEO: On the right track, but it will take time

Dry bulk carrier J. Lauritzen finished the third quarter with an operating deficit of USD 9.8 million. Positive with a better dry bulk market, but the carrier is still some way off from turning a profit, CEO Mads Zacho tells ShippingWatch.

Monjasa's fate in fraud case will be decided Monday

On Monday, Denmark's Western High Court will issue its verdict in the protracted fraud case against Danish bunker company Monjasa and founder Jan Jacobsen. The appeal case brought new witnesses and evidence from the defense which maintains the innocence of its clients.

Hafnia Tankers books another deficit in tough market

Denmark based product tanker carrier Hafnia Tankers booked red figures on the bottom line in the third quarter, much like many of its competitors. The carrier has now lost USD five million in the first nine months of 2017, but believes that better times lie ahead.

Latest Suppliers

Related articles

Latest news

Jobs

See all

See all