Inmarsat is working with Rolls-Royce in an initiative to develop autonomous ships.
The communications provider is participating in the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), which aims to bring industry partners together to explore the economic, social, legal, regulatory and technological factors involved with building autonomous ships.
The system, which will build on existing ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications platforms, will use Inmarsat‘s Fleet Xpress service, delivered through the Global Xpress and L-band constellations.
The initiative will run from 2015 until the end of 2017.
"The launch of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress mobile broadband network, which forms the heart of the new Fleet Xpress service, is a real turning point for the future of the maritime industry and ideally lends itself to the AAWA Initiative," said Ronald Spithout, President of Inmarsat Maritime.
"Fleet Xpress will enable the ship-to-shore communications required to support the remote control functionality fundamental to the realisation of the autonomous ship.
"The high-performance, high-throughput network will open up unlimited possibilities for maritime applications and real-time monitoring and analysis of data, for smarter shipping today and the future."
Spithout continued: "We are delighted to be partnering on this project with some of the world’s most innovative companies and institutions, and to be working at the forefront of this evolving technology."
Esa Jokioinen, Rolls-Royce, Head of Blue Ocean Team, commented: "The wide-ranging project will look at research carried out to date, before exploring the business case for autonomous applications, the safety and security implications of designing and operating remotely operated ships, the legal and regulatory implications and the existence and readiness of a supplier network able to deliver commercially applicable products in the short to medium term.
"The technological work stream will be led by Rolls-Royce and encompass expertise from across a range of world-leading capabilities within the marine market.
"We are pleased to have partners, such as Inmarsat, as part of that team, enabling us to take the first concrete steps towards making remote controlled and autonomous ship applications a reality."
Read more about Inmarsat’s strategy in CBR’s recent briefing with CEO Rupert Pearce.