Space-Grade Tech Revamps Autonomous Ships

Together, ESA and Rolls-Royce will explore how space technology can help develop remote-controlled and autonomous ships.

Mnet 109365 Autonomous Ships

Together, ESA and Rolls-Royce will explore how space technology can help develop remote-controlled and autonomous ships. The partnership was cemented with a Memorandum of Intent signed by ESA Director General Jan Wörner.

The two plan to investigate many areas of improvement, including satellite-based positioning, situational awareness using Earth observation data, safety-critical software modeling, and satcom connectivity. Streamlining space- and earth-based systems will hopefully reduce human error and allocate the crew’s time to more important endeavors.

“Space technologies provide tangible benefits for the citizens of Europe. Partnerships, such as this one with Rolls-Royce, take solutions originally developed for the unique challenges of the space environment and bring them down to Earth,” says Wörner.

Mnet 109365 Autonomous Ships

In addition, the Rolls-Royce Ship Intelligence division will embark on validating new ship-to-shore solutions, integrating with satellite and land networks. ESA shares this common goal, outlined in its Satellite for 5G (S45G) initiative.

In the move to 5G communication services, the initiative plans to integrate terrestrial- and satellite-based systems with a focus on the transport, media and entertainment, and public safety markets.

“Space 4.0 and ESA’s Satellite for 5G initiative enable, support, and foster developments, validations, and trials of products and applications in diverse areas of the maritime industry, and this partnership between ESA and Rolls-Royce will enable satellites to serve ship intelligence, marine operations, navigation, cargo logistics, maritime safety, healthcare, and passenger and crew communications,” Wörner adds.

ESA has opened its doors to test upcoming Rolls-Royce telecommunication and navigation equipment, specifically at its Netherlands space-grade facilities.

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