Rolls-Royce sails into 2019 with the successful test of an autonomous ship

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, most of the focus in recent years has been on self-driving cars and how they could one day transform the way we move around our towns and cities.

Rolls-Royce is taking a slightly different approach, viewing sea transportation as ripe for development when it comes to autonomous technology. The company has a plan to create a remotely controlled cargo ship within six years, and recently completed successful tests of an autonomous ship.

The project involved partnering with Finland’s Finferries to conduct its first test of an autonomous ferry in real-world conditions.

The trial took place near the Finnish city of Turku 90 miles west of Helsinki, and used a 53.8-meter-long car ferry called Falco that’s been retrofitted with Rolls-Royce Ship Intelligence technology. The kit includes an array of cameras and sensors placed around the ship to scan the nearby waters for approaching vessels. It also takes care of the all-important docking procedure at the end of its journey.

For the outward sailing from Parainen to Nauvo, Falco operated autonomously. For the return voyage, the team wanted to showcase how the ship can also be controlled remotely, if necessary. This part of the exercise involved an operator in a command center 30 miles away who guided the ship safely back to port. The entire test was conducted without any human intervention from staff on board the ship.

Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce president of commercial marine, said the test marked “a huge step forward in the journey toward autonomous shipping and reaffirms exactly what we have been saying for several years, that autonomous shipping will happen.”

Makinen added that the demonstration is no longer a concept, with the technology now on course to “transform shipping as we know it.”

Finferries CEO Mats Rosin said: “As a modern shipowner, our main goal in this cooperation has been on increasing safety in marine traffic as this is beneficial for both the environment and our passengers. But we are also equally excited about how this demonstration opens the door to the new possibilities of autonomous shipping and safety.”

For more on Rolls-Royce’s long-term plans for the high seas, check out the striking design it has in mind for its autonomous cargo ship, which it’s aiming to put to work by 2025.

Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Gaming

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC
Business

Cruise like Mick Jagger: Virgin Voyage’s new ship boasts RockStar Suites

Virgin Voyages, the new cruise company from the Virgin Group, is now taking reservations for the 2020 inaugural season. The ship's RockStar Suites are designed to help travelers feel like rock stars, going beyond the usual cruise luxuries.
Gaming

Feeling bored in real life? Pursue a new persona in the best open-world games

Open-world games are among the most popular in the medium. These are the best open-world games of all-time, including titles in series like Assassin's Creed, The Elder Scrolls, and The Legend of Zelda.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!