MacGregor, Rolls-Royce Team Up on Autonomous Container Shipping Project

MacGregor and Rolls-Royce have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research and development aimed at exploring the implications in autonomy for cargo ship navigation and cargo systems onboard containerships.

The collaboration between MacGregor, a provider of engineering solutions and services for the offshore and marine industries, and engineering company Rolls-Royce is expected to lay the groundwork for the development of autonomous containerships.

“Rolls-Royce is pioneering remotely controlled and autonomous ships and believes such a remote controlled ship will be in commercial use by the end of the decade and a common sight on the high seas by 2030,” Asbjørn Skaro, Rolls-Royce, Director Digital and Systems, said. 

“For the full benefits of such a change to be realised, many activities currently done today manually will need to be done autonomously. This research will help us explore how that might be achieved,” Skaro added.

“In the segments where we (MacGregor) operate, we see a lot of unnecessary waste in the forms of inefficiency, damage to cargo, and continuously dangerous working conditions. Our aim is to minimise this waste from the value network,” Pasi Lehtonen, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Business Development and Marketing, MacGregor, explained.

According to MacGregor, in the new era known as the fourth industrial revolution, the increasing amount of data will offer great opportunities for offshore and marine industries with access to real-time information. Connectivity will enable remote diagnostics and control and gradually autonomous vessel operations.

The development of new solutions and services, which will be a mix of hardware and software, will be based on the approach of identifying where unnecessary industry waste is taking place, MacGregor said.

Earlier this month, Rolls-Royce received an approval for a research grant by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, supporting its aim to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality. The company said that the funding would enable it to further invest in a research and development centre in Turku, Finland.

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