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Google AI to Power Rolls-Royce’s Autonomous Ships

Google AI to Power Rolls-Royce’s Autonomous Ships

Google has agreed to help aerospace and maritime engineering company Rolls-Royce by “teaching” object detection to systems for ocean-going autonomous ships.

Under an agreement signed on October 3, 2017, Rolls-Royce will start using Google's cloud-based software to improve its system for detecting objects at sea.

Drawing from its maritime experience, Rolls-Royce plans to use the software to help create models that can interpret its large and diverse marine data sets.

These are needed if functional autonomous ships, currently being piloted by shipping companies like MOL and NYK Line, are to be commercially operational.

The systems can also assist manned ship navigation, as Rolls-Royce had previously applied its systems to assist crew with safe ferry navigation for Swedish shipowner Stena Line.


Rolls-Royce presents a vision of a future land-based control centre:


The type of software used for training Rolls-Royce models, Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine, also powers many of Google’s image and voice search engines.

Google’s software can use a set of algorithms to teach computerized devices to solve specific problems.

It can analyse existing data sets, recognizing patterns and making predictions and as more complex the patterns are recognised, predictions become more accurate.

It can also be accessed globally through the cloud as machines ‘learn’ anywhere in the world.

Well-trained machine learning models can perform predictive analytics faster and better than a human, Rolls-Royce claims.

The models’ predictions will then be evaluated in practical marine applications, allowing them to be further refined.

Read a related technical paper by Rolls-Royce on how real-time remote monitoring of vessels worldwide will see ships become more reliable.

Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce, SVP Ship Intelligence said: “While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient.

“By working with Google Cloud we can make these systems better faster, saving lives.”

Eva Fors, Head of Google Cloud Sales Nordics said: “By exploring the possibilities presented by machine learning, Rolls-Royce can combine the latest technology advancements with its deep knowledge of the maritime industry, ultimately bringing significant improvements to the sector.”

Read More:  Rolls Royce has signed a deal with Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven to supply its automatic crossing system for two new double-ended plug-in battery-hybrid ferries being built for Norwegian ferry company FosenNamsos Sjø.

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