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LIDAR-based maritime situational awareness system launched

Rolls-Royce has introduced a new system to improve situational awareness for navigators operating vessels at night, in adverse weather conditions or in congested waterways, which works by fusing sensor data with intelligent software to provide bridge crews with a more detailed understanding of events unfolding around them than what would be possible with the naked eye.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The Rolls-Royce Intelligent Awareness (IA) system provides an overview of the vessel’s external situation in four User Interface modes; Virtual Reality (2D and 3D), Augmented Reality and Precision mode.

The system is made possible through the creation of a 3D map of the vessel based on Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser beam to measure distances.

It can be linked to GPS data to create 3D environments that allow crews to “see what the human eye cannot,” Rolls-Royce says.

The technology is built on research performed by the company as part of its participation in the AAWA (Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications) project, as well as data gained from customer collaboration programmes with Stena and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL).

“The IA system forms part of our ongoing development of the autonomous ship, but we decided to make the technology available today as it offers real benefits to the existing shipping environment,” said Iiro Lindborg, Rolls-Royce, general manager, remote & autonomous operations.

“IA is undoubtedly one of the most significant advances made to-date in terms of ship navigation safety. It provides bridge personnel with a much greater understanding of the ship’s surroundings.”

“We can use the IA system in any ship where there is a need for better situational awareness, particularly during night-time sailings or in adverse weather conditions. It provides an advisory solution to supplement basic information available from ECDIS and radar, with the LIDAR 3D map creating an accurate bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area.”

One of the first full implementations of the technology will see an IA system installed on board the 165m passenger ferry Sunflower, which MOL operates between Kobe and Oita, Japan, via the Akashi Kaikyo, Bisan Seto and Kurushima Straits.

“Sunflower ferry operates in some of the most congested waters in the world and will provide an opportunity to test rigorously Rolls-Royce’s intelligent awareness system. This can give our crews an enhanced decision support tool, increasing their safety and that of our vessels,” said MOL director, Kenta Arai.{/mprestriction}

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