Rolls-Royce - The future of ship intelligence

Rolls-Royce have invested a lot of money and resources into seeing how technology can help make the shipping industry safer and more efficient. It's quite inspiring to see a project of such scale and imagining how much of an impact this initiative could have.

The videos themselves are fantastic, for someone who knows little of the shipping industry, it's quite easy to grasp the concepts being presented. A few of the key points that I quite liked was the use of Augmented Reality, situation awareness and personalised configurations.

Augmented Reality

It's very obvious in the videos how useful this could be. The scenarios in which they've decided to use AR are very intuitive and sensible, and a lot of it focuses on predicting behaviours. Showing projected pathways, allows the user to see things before they happen, and therefore constantly be a couple of steps ahead of the current situation. Having positional indicators with realtime information on distance and timing, gives the user a comprehensive map of traffic flow. Therefore ships are able to manoeuvre around obstacles and avoid collisions, way ahead of time. My favourite application though, was the transparency view. With all the data collected, the AR overlay allows a user to see through the ship's cargo containers, which would normally obstruct the view of a passing ship below. All great applications of AR and excellent examples of using technology for tangible benefits.

Situation awareness

This was specifically demonstrated in the 'Future of tug bridge controls' video. The example shows that a captain and a deck hand can both share the same view of a situation, and therefore allowing them to be on the same page, whilst being on different ships. Not only that but the captain can interact with this shared visual and essentially point to what he/she's referring to in real-time, and guide the deck hand visually, along with verbal communication of course.

Personalised configurations

Well this one's pretty obvious, but there are a lot of benefits to this. It's not just about adjusting your chair to the height that suits you, but for a ship controller it seems there are so many things you have the adjust for. This is particularly useful for people being at the controls for long periods of time, as well as people of different sizes. Particularly when safety's concerned, controls need to be suited to the user, just like driving a car, your mirrors need to be adjusted to suit you. I love that it's all automated and customisable and I can see this being applied to airplane pilots or in fact any situations involving a driver.

Check it out, it's great to see UI/UX design attributing to practical real world benefits.

Thanks to our friend Allan MacKinnon, for sending this through!

Watch 'Ship Intelligence for cargo vessels'
Watch 'Ship Intelligence for platform support vessels'
Watch 'Future of tug bridge controls'