FUTURE INNOVATIONS Autonomous and unmanned vessels , robotics, and the use of drones are on the horizon
THE SHIP? By John R. Snyder, Publisher & Editor
R&D moves unmanned vessels and autonomous ships forward
mart ships, robotics, and drones have all emerged as topics of conversation over the last few years, as forward-thinking marine companies begin to assess how these new technologies will shape the business and economics of shipping in the future. While regulations still have a ways to catch up with the idea of unmanned and autonomous vessels, the technology is nearly at hand. Drones are already being tested for ship inspections and deliveries at sea and 3D printing for manufacturing parts at sea. Companies such as Wärtsilä are reinventing themselves to support the evolution of shipping in the digital age. To help in its reinvention, Wärtsilä acquired Eniram this past summer. The Helsinki-based company uses data analytics, modeling and optimization to help operators manage energy usage to reduce fuel consumption and improve their environmental footprints. Wärtsilä also relaunched its Wärtsilä
22 Marine Log // December 2016
Nacos Platinum platform of navigation, automation, and control systems. At SMM 2016 in Hamburg, Germany, this past September, Wärtsilä outlined several concepts of how emerging technologies could disrupt the traditional shipping model. One for the Starbucks crowd was a “bean-to-cup” concept that would use factory ships to transport coffee beans from South America to Europe and Asia. During the voyage, the beans would be processed and roasted into a consumer-ready product that would be available immediately upon the ship’s arrival in port. Now that would make a fresh cup of Joe! The “Java Express” concept is not so far-fetched given that freezer longliners already catch, process, prepare and package their catch before they arrive in port. Putting the coffee bean concept aside, Wärtsilä is actually supporting a project aimed at creating the world’s first autonomous marine transport system for the Baltic Sea by 2025.
The first applications would be for cargo ships and freight transportation. The program is being largely financed by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for innovation, and the ecosystem platform is being handled by DIMECC, a leading breakthrough oriented co-creation ecosystem provider. The main corporate investors in the program, apart from Wärtsilä, are Rolls-Royce, Cargotec, Ericsson, Meyer Turku, and Tieto.
Rolls-Royce, VTT Strike Deal Rolls-Royce is also taking advantage of the development of autonomous ship applications through the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) partnership. Its commercial partners in AAWA include ship designer Deltamarin, satcom technology company Inmarsat, class society DNV GL, and ship design and ship operation software developer NAPA (owned by ClassNK). Finnish academia is also supporting the effort, with VTT Technical Research