Rolls-Royce Unveils New Automation Systems With Sea Machines Tech

April 5, 2022

Yachting Journal

(Image: Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce is expanding its range of mtu NautIQ ship automation systems with three new products offering different levels of intelligent crew support, autonomous control and remote command capabilities.

The new products—mtu NautIQ CoPilot, mtu NautIQ CoOperate and mtu NautIQ CoDirect—are the next step in the cooperation between Rolls-Royce and autonomous control and remote-vessel command systems developer Sea Machines Robotics, which was first announced in September 2021.

The most advanced intelligent pilot assist system of the new product range, mtu NautIQ CoPilot, is a human-on-the-loop system that, depending on operating mode, can either autonomously control a planned voyage from start to finish, or not intervene at all in human operations, while only guiding the operator. According to Rolls-Royce, the system enables navigation with greater precision and predictability, helping to reduce costs, fuel consumption and emissions. The company labeled the system as an important step toward more climate-friendly marine operations, made possible by the fusion of digital marine sensors, embedded electronic charts, advanced AI algorithms and one of the world’s most advanced broad-area computer vision systems.

mtu NautIQ CoOperate is an optionally autonomous ship navigation command system which enables off-boat remote command, including all payloads on board. The system can take over routine and monotonous vessel tasks and it allows crews to focus on more important aspects of their missions. The system has recently proven itself on board the tug Nellie Bly, which used the system to complete a 1,000 NM roundtrip from Hamburg around Denmark, remotely commanded from an office in Boston, USA, 3,000 NM away. As with all the new products, operators can intervene at any moment if necessary.

mtu NautIQ CoDirect is a wireless, remote-helm system that can control a vessel’s engines, steering and transmission as well as payload functions such as winches and cranes from a distance of up to 1,000 meters. This allows marine crews to operate the vessel from the best vantage point, increasing safety and efficiency, Rolls-Royce said. For example, a tug operator can leave the wheelhouse to operate the vessel from a location with better visibility.

“This continued partnership is significant because it brings together a foremost marine power and propulsion solutions provider and the leading developer of advanced and AI-based vessel control systems," said Sea Machines' Michael G. Johnson, CEO and founder. "Our alliance not only increases access to intelligent technologies that can positively impact operators’ bottom lines, productivity, eco-stewardship and safety, but it also provides proof of the growing market demand for these types of systems for real-world operations.”

Denise Kurtulus, vice president, Global Marine at Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems, said: “I am excited to see how quickly the teams of Rolls-Royce and Sea Machines have turned our joint vision into products available for our customers. This addition to our mtu NautIQ product portfolio is an important part of our journey towards a provider of integrated sustainable solutions. And it’s a fantastic example of how we, as a company with long history and tradition, implement cutting-edge technology – which benefits our customers and the environment alike – in a very agile way.”