Rolls-Royce plans autonomous ship

The future of patrol ships could be in for a massive overhaul with the unveiling of Rolls-Royce’s plans for a fully autonomous naval vessel.

The company, most famous for luxurious cars and Spitfires, announced their plans to deliver a 60-metre robotic vessel capable of a range of 3,500 nautical miles.

The ship is set to reach a top speed of over 25 knots and runs primarily on electric.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and sensors, that according to Rolls-Royce already exist, will operate the vessel for up to 100 days at a time.

The AI proposed will eliminate the need for a crew, their supplies and can complete missions such as surveillance, mine detection or fleet screening.

Though with no one on board to maintain and fix inevitable issues, Rolls-Royce said they are prioritising creating a reliable power and electronic propulsion system.

Opting for an electric propulsion system will not only make the ship less costly but also stealthier; perfect for the patrol and surveillance missions.

Designs also detail solar cells on-board that will extend the tie the ship can remain in standby mode.

However, it has been noted that the increased reliance on such systems bring with it a possible increase in cyber threats.

Benjamin Thorp, Rolls-Royce, General Manager Naval Electrics, Automation and Control said:

“Rolls-Royce is seeing interest from major navies in autonomous, rather than remote controlled, ships. Such ships offer a way to deliver increased operational capability, reduce the risk to crew and cut both operating and build costs.”

However, the future of these autonomous vessels are somewhat vague. Rolls-Royce has yet to name any customers and it’s unclear as to who might be willing to get on board with the new technology.

Rolls-Royce plans autonomous Navy vessel
Pictures: Rolls-Royce

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