28.08.2016

Rolls-Royce develops unmanned ships in Finland

The development of the company’s remote and autonomous ship technology takes place in Finland. Rolls-Royce has had a presence in Finland for more than 50 years. Nowadays, about 700 people work for the company in its facilities in Rauma, Kokkola and Helsinki.

British manufacturing company Rolls-Royce is developing technologies for autonomous and remote ships in Finland, reports Finnish business daily Kauppalehti.

Rolls-Royce is leading an ongoing 6.6-million-euro project in the field of autonomous ships funded by Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes. The Rolls-Royce-led initiative includes various Finnish universities and research institutes, including Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology and Åbo Akademi as well as VTT Technical research Centre of Finland.

Finland is a forerunner in the field, which is considered to play a key role in the future of the maritime industry. Currently, the technology for unmanned ships is tested aboard the Stella ferry of Finnish company Finnferries.

“Rolls-Royce development project is a good example how international companies can utilize the Finnish technology ecosystem and knowhow. Co-operation with companies, government and universities has been straightforward and innovative. It has brought together the best Finnish strongholds in R&D activities: creativity, high-skilled professionals, funding and open development platforms”, says Katja Koponen Project Manager at Invest in Finland, Finpro.

Rolls-Royce firmly believes that autonomous and remote ships will become a mainstream solution for the global marine traffic in the 2030s. In practice, the required technology already exists and the first maiden voyages are expected to take place not later than by the end of the decade.

“This will happen,” says Oskar Levander, Vice President of Innovation at Rolls-Royce. “It is a matter of when, not if, because the necessary technology exists.”

Unmanned ships have several advantages. For example, Rolls-Royce estimates that the technology can save up to 20 percent in shipping costs. In addition, the British company predicts an enhancement in general maritime safety because of the decreased margin of human error.

The automatization of marine traffic unfolds plenty of opportunities for Finnish ICT companies for example in the business areas of imaging and audio systems, wireless connectivity, sensor development and security systems.