Rolls-Royce has unveiled an Intelligent Awareness (IA) system that uses multiple sensors with intelligent software to mitigate against the safety risks navigators face when operating vessels at night, in adverse weather conditions or in congested waterways.
The engineering company has claimed that the IA system is the first commercially available technology of its kind that uses data collection to enhance navigational safety and operational efficiency through situational awareness.
IA fuses the data from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive overview of the vessel’s external situation, in four User Interface modes; Virtual Reality (2D and 3D), Augmented Reality and Precision mode.
The technology can create a 3D map of a vessel based on Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser beam to measure distances.
By linking it to GPS data to create 3D environments, ship crews can see what the human eye cannot.
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Iiro Lindborg, Rolls-Royce, General Manager, Remote & Autonomous Operations, said: “The IA system forms part of our ongoing development of the autonomous ship, but we decided to make the technology available today as it offers real benefits to the existing shipping environment.
“IA is undoubtedly one of the most significant advances made to-date in terms of ship navigation safety. It provides bridge personnel with a much greater understanding of the ship’s surroundings.”
Rolls-Royce has created the system through research gathered from the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) project, its autonomous ship initiative, and customer collaboration programmes with ferry operator Stena and Japanese container shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL).
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Lindborg added: “We can use the IA system in any ship where there is a need for better situational awareness, particularly during night-time sailings or in adverse weather conditions.
“It provides an advisory solution to supplement basic information available from ECDIS and RADAR, with the LIDAR 3D map creating an accurate bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area.”
Henrik Grönlund, Sales Manager, Remote & Autonomous Solutions, Rolls-Royce, said: “IA is a game-changer with so much potential.
“It is being launched at a cruise event because we see IA’s greatest benefits in passenger shipping. But as additional sensors and applications are added to the platform, other high-value ship types, such as large container ships, will follow.”
An IA system will be installed onboard the 165 metre passenger ferry Sunflower, which Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) operates between Kobe and Oita, Japan, via the Akashi Kaikyo, Bisan Seto and Kurushima Straits.
Explaining the reason behind the decision to install IA, MOL Director Kenta Arai said: “Sunflower ferry operates in some of the most congested waters in the world and will provide an opportunity to test rigorously Rolls-Royce’s intelligent awareness system.
“This can give our crews an enhanced decision support tool, increasing their safety and that of our vessels.”