Rolls-Royce has announced that it has unveiled its vision of land-based control centres for remotely monitoring and controlling future unmanned ships. In a six minute film, the company presented a vision of the future in which a small crew of 7 to 14 people monitor and control the operation of a fleet of vessels across the world. The crew uses interactive smart screens, voice recognition systems, holograms and surveillance drones to monitor what is happening both on board and around the ship.
The research was undertaken by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and University of Tampere research centre TAUCHI (Tampere Unit for Computer Human Interaction) in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. It explored the lessons learned from other industries where remote operation is commonplace, such as aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration.
The film marks the final stage of research that will inform the design and construction of a project demonstrator before the end of this decade. An effective remote operations centre is essential to the company’s plans to develop autonomous and remote controlled vessels.
The film extends the concept of the ‘oX’ operator experience which was introduced in 2014. It’s a bit like something out of CSI. Only we’re at sea, not in Kansas anymore.
The InnoLeap GUI was developed to manage the wide range of data types associated with remote unmanned vehicle operation. It is pretty fascinating to see the level of seamless integration presented here. Note how the characters move the data displays to different screens to facilitate interaction and how seamless the design is. (Props to the team that did the CG production.)
In one scene, a drone inspection is scheduled. The concepts presented include eye control, a pre-programmed inspection pattern, the coordinated use of two drones and the display of the drone’s eye view as a graphic rather than photographic image.
A system like this will obviously have to be purpose built from scratch. I think it is reasonable to assume that a similar approach could be used to integrate other kinds of operations such as drone delivery, wildfire response, disaster response and of course the battlefield.