Rolls-Royce has secured a grant from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes to establish a new research and development (R&D) centre for remotely controlled and autonomous ships in Turku, Finland.

The proposed centre will help Rolls-Royce to carry out future projects focused on the development of land-based control centres, as well as the use of artificial intelligence in future remote and autonomous shipping operations.

Rolls-Royce’s marine division has already partnered with Finland's Technical Research Centre and the Tampere University of Technology (TUT) for the project.

The Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, as well as several SMEs and start-ups specialising in new technologies, are also involved in the project.

Rolls-Royce Marine president Mikael Mäkinen said: “Digitalisation 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.

"Digitalisation 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 a significant global market opportunity.

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“By combining our world leading capability and knowledge, with a clear plan of where we need to go next, we can work with our customers, governments and our global academic research network to develop and bring to market the advanced technology, products and supporting services needed both ‘on-vessel’ and ‘on-shore’ to make our vision of future remote and autonomous ships a reality.”

The company is currently making investments in various R&D projects, which will include a new Marine Fleet Management Centre in Aalesund in Norway to allow remote monitoring, data analysis, optimisation of ships and their on board equipment.

Image: Rolls-Royce land-based control centre concept. Photo: courtesy of Rolls-Royce plc.