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The future of smart shipping

Oskar Levander, vice president of innovation at Rolls Royce, will take to the stage at The Superyacht Forum.…

In recent years, Rolls Royce have dedicated substantial funds in their research and development for innovative ship intelligence. They are at the forefront of the move towards autonomous shipping, looking at technical solutions for future problems that they foresee this sector will need.

A trained naval architect, Oskar Levander is senior vice president for concepts and innovation at Rolls Royce, which means that he works applying new technology, concepts and business ideas to the marine sector. “Some of our work is looking at more long-term development, looking further into the future and seeking how we can open up new markets, as well as how this new technology can be used in marine applications and solutions,” he explains, in a recent conversation with SuperyachtNews.

Rolls Royce, he continues, are using their platform to educate the shipping world on how to future-proof the industry. “We want to influence the market, and provide a lot of thought leadership, because a lot of this new technology ... nobody is asking for it yet. We need to create the market demand, we need to open the market for them.” Although the future of intelligent shipping has been met with some resistance by some parties, just as the use of AI within the automotive industry is still questioned, Levander stresses that the rise in autonomous yachts will mean an exponential improvement in efficiency, and is paramount in moving the industry forward. According to Rolls Royce, one single captain could control an entire fleet of ships, all whilst sitting at a virtual bridge.

Levander sees autonomous systems as a method to hugely improve the safety of operations. Automatic docking systems, for example, reduce the risk of accidents by removing the propensity for human error. However, within the superyacht market, Levander believes that this technology will only be used to assist crew, rather than completely replace them. “We don’t foresee having an unmanned yacht, we don’t see the point in that. But we do see potential where we can use the same technology to enhance the capability of the crew, and also enable owners to use the crew more efficiently,” he adds.

“We don’t foresee having an unmanned yacht, we don’t see the point in that. But we do see potential where we can use the same technology to enhance the capability of the crew, and also enable owners to use the crew more efficiently.”

In addition to the research into the future uses of autonomy, Rolls Royce are addressing the industry’s contribution to climate change. “How can we reduce the environmental impact of ships?” asks Levander. “We try to look a little bit further than the current regulations. The world will demand these solutions in the future. Especially looking at the human health aspect of particle emissions and climate change.”

In an attempt to combat global warming, the R&D team for Rolls Royce have been looking at all the aspects of the ship, and how everything can be fine-tuned to reduce emissions. “We’ve been driving [research into] alternative fuels and looking at the environmental aspects of renewable energy sources, advanced propulsion concepts and new ship design. It goes across the whole marine portfolio.”

Next month, Levander will deliver a keynote presentation at The Superyacht Forum, which will explore these innovations and their various applications within the marine environment. “I will give a view of digitalisation and how I see that changing the marine industry,” he says. The session will also explore how these new digital marketplaces are disrupting some parts of shipping, such as cargo brokering.

Levander is positive that the ideas and concepts he will present are applicable to the yachting industry, with his presentation looking at how these technologies will be utilised on board yachts in the future. “I’ll explain what [these developments] will offer for the superyacht market, to illustrate some of the possibilities that these technologies will bring to the industry, from the way of both how the vessel could look - redefining the bridge for example - to how you manage the yachts.”

To learn more about The Superyacht Forum and to register to attend, click here.

Image: courtesy of Rolls Royce


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