Prepare for a Fleet of Ghost Ships—Remote-Controlled

Rolls-Royce shares its vision of autonomous transportation.


Ship-to-shore communication just got interesting—especially if the captain isn’t aboard. That’s the vision Rolls-Royce outlines for the future of maritime shipping, in which the vessel traveling the international waterways is unmanned and remote-controlled.

Rolls-Royce released a video explaining its vision of the shore control center in which a small land-based team can monitor and control the operation of vessels around the world using interactive screens, voice recognition, holograms and drones that can be deployed to sea to find out what’s happening on the ship.

According to an article in, Rolls-Royce’s autonomous, unmanned vision of future shipping, known as the ‘oX’ operator experience concept, was first introduced by the company in 2014. Previous studies have looked at the user experience of future command bridges on Platform Supply Vessels, container ships and tugs.

In addition, Big Data is an important aspect of autonomous vessels on the open seas, as explored in an article by Automation World’s executive editor Aaron Hand. Rolls-Royce is gathering information on the growing number of data points on a vessel in order to create a way for ships to drive themselves.

The company expects to see some level of unmanned ships coming out before the end of the decade. “It’s not if, but a matter of when,” said Iiro Lindborg, general manager, remote and autonomous operations, ship intelligence, for Rolls-Royce Marine.

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