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Intel to partner with Rolls-Royce on autonomous ship development

Rolls-Royce and Intel have announced a new agreement that will see the companies work together on the further development of autonomous vessel systems, collaborating on designs for intelligent shipping technologies to make commercial shipping safer.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The partnership will leverage Rolls-Royce’s expertise in the shipping sector and Intel’s components and systems engineering capabilities to design new smart, connected and data-centric systems for shipowners, operators, cargo owners and ports, with a focus on safety.

The companies said that their new shipping intelligence systems will have data centre and artificial intelligence capabilities, as well as integrating edge computing to independently manage navigation, obstacle detection and communications.

“We’re delighted to sign this agreement with Intel, and look forward to working together on developing exciting new technologies and products, which will play a big part in enabling the safe operation of autonomous ships,” said Kevin Daffey, Rolls-Royce, director, engineering & technology and ship intelligence.

“This collaboration can help us to support ship owners in the automation of their navigation and operations, reducing the opportunity for human error and allowing crews to focus on more valuable tasks.”

“Simply said, this project would not be possible without the leading-edge technology Intel brings to the table. Together, we’ll blend the best of the best, Intel and Rolls-Royce, to change the world of shipping.”

The systems developed will include use of Intel Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology, to provide a platform for edge operations such as obstacle detection and navigation, as well as Intel Xeon Scalable Processors optimised for High Performance Computing (HPC) to manage complex modelling of ship functions and support learning models for fully autonomous operations.

Rolls-Royce’s Intelligent Awareness System (IA) uses AI-powered sensor fusion and manages decision-making by processing data from lidar, radar, thermal cameras, HD cameras, satellite data and weather forecasts. That data collected by the vessels will be stored using Intel 3D NAND SSDs, acting as a ‘black box’ and securing the information for training and analysis once the ship is docked.

Even compressed, Rolls-Royce notes that the data captured by each vessel can reach up to 1TB per day, or 30TB to 40TB over a month-long voyage, making data storage a critical component of the intelligent system.

“Delivering these systems is all about processing – moving and storing huge volumes of data – and that is where Intel comes in,” said Lisa Spelman, vice president and general manager, Intel Xeon processors and data center marketing in the data center group at Intel.

“Rolls-Royce is a key driver of innovation in the shipping industry, and together we are creating the foundation for safe shipping operations around the world.”{/mprestriction}

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