The Falco uses sensors and AI to build a picture of its surroundings © Rolls-Royce plc
The Falco uses sensors and AI to build a picture of its surroundings © Rolls-Royce plc

First fully autonomous ship tested

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
12 December 2018

The world’s first fully autonomous ferry has been demonstrated in Finland.

Rolls-Royce and Finnish state-owned operator Finferries worked together to enable the voyage, during which the vessel detected objects with sensors and artificial intelligence, conducted collision avoidance and berthed automatically, all without any human intervention from the crew.

The Falco, which travelled between Parainen and Nauvo, is equipped with advanced sensors that allow it to build a detailed picture of its surroundings in real time and with a level of accuracy “beyond that of the human eye”, said Rolls-Royce. This information is relayed to a remote operating centre on land where a captain monitors the ship and can take control if necessary.

Rolls-Royce and Finferries began collaborating earlier this year on the project, called Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation (SVAN), to build on previous work in the field.

Mikael Makinen, president, commercial marine at Rolls-Royce, said: “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.

“The SVAN project has been a successful collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Finferries and an ideal opportunity to showcase to the world how ship intelligence technology can bring great benefits in the safe and efficient operation of ships.

“This is a very proud moment for all of us and marks our most significant milestone so far. Today’s demonstration proves that the autonomous ship is not just a concept, but something that will transform shipping as we know it.”

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