Rolls-Royce reveals vision for shore operations

22 Mar 2016
Smart screens, interactive holograms and voice recognition are integrated into the shore control centre, with a project demonstrator planned for the end of the decade

Smart screens, interactive holograms and voice recognition are integrated into the shore control centre, with a project demonstrator planned for the end of the decade

Rolls-Royce has revealed a futuristic vision for shore-based operation of unmanned ships, and plans to build a project demonstrator by the end of the decade.

The shore control centre is the latest in the company’s oX (operator experience) series – previous instalments have focused on future bridge concepts for PSVs, tugs and containerships – and employs interactive smart screens, voice recognition, holograms and surveillance drones to remotely control and monitor unmanned vessels. It is staffed by a crew of seven to 14 operators and is capable of operating and monitoring a global fleet.

Iiro Lindborg, general manager, remote & autonomous operations, ship intelligence, Rolls-Royce, said: “Unmanned and remote-controlled transportation systems will become a common feature of human life. They offer unprecedented flexibility and operational efficiency. Our research aims to understand the human factors involved in monitoring and operating ships remotely. It identifies ways crews ashore can use tools to get a realistic feel for what is happening at sea.”

The research, undertaken by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and University of Tampere’s Unit for Computer Human Interaction (TAUCHI) in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, explored the lessons learned from other industries that already use remote operation, including aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration.

Mikael Wahlström, senior scientist, VTT, said: “We need to understand current work by field studies. This allows the creation of innovations that reflect the positive aspects of existing job practices, which are not always obvious. If, for example, a mechanic can assess the engine status by hearing the engine noise, it should be beneficial to be able to do the same at a remote control centre.”

Eija Kaasinen, principal scientist, VTT added: “Unmanned ships need to be monitored and controlled and this will require entirely new kinds of work roles, tasks, tools and environments. The future shore control centre concept has been designed by emphasising the user experience of the human operators. By focusing on the operators’ point of view, it is possible to introduce meaningful, pleasurable and engaging new roles for the ships’ shore control centre professionals.