Rolls-Royce Reveals the Bridge of the Future, Ashore

"Ships' shore control center professionals" determining whether to secure a vessel's propeller shaft (image courtesy Rolls-Royce)

By MarEx 2016-03-23 20:30:57

On Tuesday, Rolls-Royce published a digital depiction of a land-based control center that the firm suggests could be used to remotely monitor and control unmanned, autonomous cargo vessels.

The firm said that an animated video of its command center concept is the final stage of research before the creation of a demonstration model, to be built before the end of the decade.

Rolls-Royce envisions a crew of a dozen people responsible for the operation of a worldwide fleet, using holograms, smart screens, voice recognition and eye movement tracking – all intended to give crew a “realistic feel for what is happening at sea.”

“The future shore control center concept has been designed by emphasising the user experience of the human operators. By focusing on the operators’ point of view, it is possible to introduce meaningful, pleasurable and engaging new roles for the ships’ shore control center professionals,” said Eija Kaasinen, principal scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The concept was developed by VTT, University of Tampere and Rolls-Royce, based on experience from aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration, plus “trend and user studies, co-innovation, scenario stories and visualizations.”

“We’re living in an ever-changing world where unmanned and remote-controlled transportation systems will become a common feature of human life. Our research aims to understand the human factors involved in monitoring and operating ships remotely,” said Iiro Lindborg, Rolls-Royce’s general manager of remote and autonomous operations, ship intelligence. 

Mr. Lindborg said that mariners had been consulted during the design process, for example by “task analysis through interviews of crew members of different vessels.”

VTT suggested that mariner input would be important as Rolls-Royce moves forward with the program. “We need to understand current work by field studies. This allows the creation of innovations that reflect the positive aspects of existing job practices, which are not always obvious. If, for example, a mechanic [engineer] can assess the engine status by hearing the engine noise, it should be beneficial to be able to do the same at a remote control center,” said Mikael Wahlström, senior scientist at VTT.