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Google and Rolls-Royce Partner to Build Autonomous Vessels

Rolls-Royce-Fishing-Vessel-1024x536At the Google Cloud Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, Rolls-Royce announced that it will be applying Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine to power autonomous ships. The technology will be used to detect, identify, and track surface objects that vessels encounter while at sea to make the maritime industry safer and more efficient.

Rolls-Royce senior vice president for ship intelligence, Karno Tenovuo, said “While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient. By working with Google Cloud, we can make these systems better, faster, saving lives.”

Eva Fors, Head of Google Cloud Sales Nordics said, “By exploring the possibilities presented by machine learning, Rolls-Royce can combine the latest technology advancements with its deep knowledge of the maritime industry, ultimately bringing significant improvements to the sector.”

Machine Learning is an application of Artificial Intelligence in which algorithms, tools, and learning techniques mimic human learning to solve very specific problems. By analyzing smaller training data sets with the objective of “teaching,” a software system can learn to recognize patterns. As the system acquires the ability to analyze bigger data sets, more accurate predictions will occur.

Rolls-Royce will use Google Cloud’s software to create specialized machine learning models that can analyze and interpret these big sets of marine data. This information will be used to evaluate and predict marine events and continue to facilitate the machine learning process. Because this software is cloud-based, the models can be accessed globally at any time and can be made available to thousands of users. As autonomous ships become more mainstream, these enormous data sets from all over the world will create increasingly accurate models in the future.

The goal for these new awareness systems is to build ships that are smarter, safer, and more efficient for crews to operate. Data derived from onboard sensors will be combined with data collected from external databases and mapping applications in order to achieve the most accurate predictions. Rolls-Royce Marine hopes to introduce the first commercial autonomous vessel to the market by 2020.

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