27 Dec 2018

Rolls-Royce just demoed world's first fully autonomous ship: Details here

Self-navigating cars are the future, there's no doubt about that.

But, renowned giant Rolls-Royce is taking the game of autonomous systems a step ahead and making self-navigating ships.

The idea sounds a bit far-fetched, but it is happening for real, and the company has even conducted a voyage with what it calls the world's first fully autonomous ferry.

Here's more on the trip.

Autonomous ferry

Meet Falco, world's first self-driving ferry

Meet Falco, world's first self-driving ferry

Earlier this month, Rolls-Royce conducted a demonstration of Falco, world's first self-navigating ferry, with some 80 VIPs onboard.

The 54-meter double-ended ferry, run by Finnish operator Finferries, has been enhanced with Rolls-Royce's Ship Intelligence technologies.

This includes a range of sensors, cameras, and an artificial intelligence system that allow the ship to produce a detailed picture of its surroundings and navigate accordingly.

Test details

Falco navigated, returned without human intervention

In the voyage conducted near the Finnish city of Turku, west of Helsinki, Falco sailed from Parainen municipality to Nauvo without human intervention.

It navigated autonomously, avoided collisions on the outward journey, while during the return, a sailor sitting some 50km away, took control and operated the whole thing remotely - to show its remote control capabilities.

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Also, Falco docked on its own

Also, Falco docked on its own

Autodocking is probably one of the most interesting capabilities demonstrated by Rolls-Royce in this trip.

With this, the ship automatically adjusts its course and speed when approaching near the quay and docks without requiring human intervention at any step.

Notably, when the ship operates autonomously, its situational awareness information is relayed to the captain on the ground. He can take control anytime.

Further work

Hundreds of hours of autonomous sailing clocked

Falco is being tested rigorously and has clocked nearly 400 hours of autonomous operations, including collision avoidance, in minor tests.

"Today marks a huge step forward in the journey towards autonomous shipping and reaffirms exactly what we have been saying for several years, that autonomous shipping will happen," Rolls-Royce President Mikael Makinen said, noting that the technology will "change shipping as we know it".

Rolls Royce's ultimate goal

•With these tests and demonstrations, Rolls-Royce wants to mature autonomous shipping to the level at which self-navigating ships can commercially operate in the high seas. This, as per Digital Trends, may happen by 2025.

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Rolls Royce


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Meet Falco

Mikael Makinen


Rolls-Royce President Mikael Makinen

Ship Intelligence



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Most asked questions

When we will get autonomous ships?

How this ship avoids collision

Can someone use autonomous ships for warfare?

What would be cost for autonomous ferries?

More questions

When we will get autonomous ships?

Asked 2018-12-27 00:04:09 by Ishan Banerjee

Answered by NewsBytes

The tests are underway, but the progress suggests we could see autonomous ships in action in next three-four years.

How this ship avoids collision

Asked 2018-12-27 00:04:09 by Vivaan Kapoor

Answered by NewsBytes

The ships sensors and cameras capture data, which is used by an AI system to create a detailed picture of surroundings. This picture is created in real-time and used for avoiding collisions.

Can someone use autonomous ships for warfare?

Asked 2018-12-27 00:04:09 by Angel Kapoor

Answered by NewsBytes

Technically, yes. But, AI-warfare is one biggest concerns, which means any such project, be it governmental or private, will draw major attention, scrutiny before coming anywhere close to real-world application.

What would be cost for autonomous ferries?

Asked 2018-12-27 00:04:09 by Pari Banerjee

Answered by NewsBytes

The projects are still in the works and at a nascent stage. Autonomous ships, when developed and ready, will commercialized for sure, but it is too early to tell the prices.

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