Inmarsat joins autonomous ship project

SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 — Inmarsat is participating in the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) recently launched by Rolls-Royce (see earlier story).

The project, funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), will bring industry partners together with universities, research institutes, shipowners and other stakeholders to explore the economic, social, legal, regulatory and technological factors which need to be addressed in order to make autonomous ships a reality.

Inmarsat's role in the project is to provide the satellite communications link and platform, which is essential to remote control capability. The basis of the system will be Inmarsat's Fleet Xpress service. Delivered through the Global Xpress and L-band constellations, it is the world's first hybrid Ka/L-band mobile satellite system.

"The launch of Inmarsat's Global Xpress mobile broadband network, which forms the heart of the new Fleet Xpress service, is a real turning point for the future of the maritime industry and ideally lends itself to the AAWA Initiative," said Ronald Spithout, President Inmarsat Maritime.

"Fleet Xpress will enable the ship-to-shore communications required to support the remote control functionality fundamental to the realization of the autonomous ship," continued Mr. Spithout. "The high-performance, high-throughput network will open up unlimited possibilities for maritime applications and real-time monitoring and analysis of data, for smarter shipping today and the future."

Esa Jokioinen, Rolls-Royce, Head of Blue Ocean Team, said: "The wide-ranging project will look at research carried out to date, before exploring the business case for autonomous applications, the safety and security implications of designing and operating remotely operated ships, the legal and regulatory implications, and the existence and readiness of a supplier network able to deliver commercially applicable products in the short to medium term.

"The technological work stream will be led by Rolls-Royce and encompass expertise from across a range of world-leading capabilities within the marine market. We are pleased to have partners, such as Inmarsat, as part of that team, enabling us to take the first concrete steps towards making remote controlled and autonomous ship applications a reality."

The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative will run from 2015 to the end 2017.

Diagram illustrates the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) Initiative. Inmarsat's role in the project is to provide the satellite communications link and platform, which is essential to remote control capability

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