Rolls-Royce Takes a Step Forward to Make Autonomous Shipping a Reality

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Rolls-Royce has been working hard to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality and the company recently took a step forward in its development. The company is now looking to develop partnerships and search for new opportunities with other organizations around the world. Looking to create a system by which autonomous shipping can thrive in the increasingly digital marine industry, the partnership will be aimed at developing jobs to supply the technology for this impressive concept.

The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation known as Tekes, offered a significant research grant to help fund the project. This investment will help Rolls-Royce spend more on research and development. In Turku, Finland the company will be working on developing projects focused on future land-based control centers and new artificial intelligence capabilities to handle the remote and autonomous shipping operations, something that many fleet management solutions are looking towards.

“Digitization will transform the shipping industry in the years ahead, and the time is now right to set out how we are going to make this happen. Over the coming years we need to invest globally to develop the required capabilities and to establish a range of market-ready products and systems to take advantage of what is significant global market opportunity,” said Mikael Mäkinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Marine, in a press release. (

Rolls-Royce is already investing in R&D projects which will eventually include a new Marine Fleet Management Center. The hub will allow for remote monitoring, data analysis, optimization of ships and their equipment using solutions similar to that of ELD by Fleetmatics or others for logistics tracking.

Autonomous shipping will have a dramatic impact on the global supply chain. Manufacturers might be paying less when it comes to transporting freight in the future. Less people on board will mean more room to haul cargo and more freight that can be transported on a single container ship. The supply chain may also become more transparent and efficient. With new monitoring capabilities, businesses might be able to track their freight throughout its entire journey. The potential is impressive, but there are of course some regulatory issues that must be addressed. Similar to self-driving cars, no legislation is in place to regulate an autonomous ship on the open ocean.

When it comes to any kind of autonomous technology, the fear of losing jobs is a serious concern. However, the need to monitor and remotely control the ships could lead to more jobs being created outside of the ship itself. Jobs may instead be moved rather than replaced. As with any industry, jobs evolve along with the technology.

To learn more about Rolls-Royce autonomous shipping venture, take a look at this earlier article from the company’s first announcement about the concept.