What, you thought we’ll only get autonomous cars in the future? Rolls Royce has much bigger plans that that: the company wants to make autonomous ships a reality.
In a recent press statement, Rolls Royce announced that it has collaborated with Finnish Finferries to test what they call “the world’s first fully autonomous ferry”. The ferry, named Falco, has successfully navigated between Parainen and Nauvo with no less than 80 VIP guests on board.
The ferry not only was capable of detecting objects and conduct collision avoidance but it also berthed on its own without any human intervention.
“We are very proud that maritime history has been made on the Parainen-Nauvo-route once again. First with our world-renowned hybrid vessel Elektra and now Falco as the world’s first autonomous ferry.
As a modern ship-owner our main goal in this cooperation has been on increasing safety in marine traffic as this is beneficial for both the environment and our passengers. But we are also equally excited about how this demonstration opens the door to the new possibilities of autonomous shipping and safety.”
Mats Rosin, Finferries CEO
The Falco can build a real-time detailed picture of its surroundings thanks to its range of advanced sensors which are more accurate than the human eye can be.
The fused data it creates is relayed back to the Finferries remote operating centre some 50Km away in the city centre of Turku where a captain monitors the autonomous operation and, if necessary, can take control of the vessel.
“Today marks a huge step forward in the journey towards autonomous shipping and reaffirms exactly what we have been saying for several years, that autonomous shipping will happen. The SVAN project has been a successful collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Finferries and an ideal opportunity to showcase to the world how Ship Intelligence technology can bring great benefits in the safe and efficient operation of ships.
Mikael Makinen, Rolls Royce President – Commercial Marine
Rolls Royce has gathered around 400 hours worth of sea trials during the autonomous tests in the Turku archipelago and the company’s Autodocking system registered successful trials. The feature allows the vessel to alter course and speed automatically when it approaches the quarry and dock without human intervention.
The sea trials also tested collision avoidance solutions.
Earlier in 2018 Finferries and Rolls Royce started their collaboration on a project called Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation (SVAN) which will be researching the data from a previous Advanced Autonomous Waterbourne Applications project.