Rolls-Royce has signed a deal with Google to develop its intelligent awareness systems. The company says the new systems will help make vessels safer, and easier and more efficient to operate, by providing crew with an enhanced understanding of their vessel’s surroundings. This will be achieved by fusing data from a range of sensors with information from existing ship systems, such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and radar. Data from other sources, including global databases, will also have a role.
Rolls-Royce also describes the systems as being “essential to making autonomous ships a reality”.
The agreement – the first of its kind in the marine sector – was signed at the Google Cloud Summit in Sweden in early October. It allows Rolls-Royce to use Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine to further train the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) based object classification system for detecting, identifying and tracking the objects a vessel can encounter at sea.
It will also enable it to create bespoke machine learning models which will be able to interpret large and diverse marine data sets created by Rolls-Royce.
“While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can also benefit maritime businesses right now by making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient,” says Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce, SVP Ship Intelligence. “By working with Google Cloud, we can make these systems better – faster.”
The Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine uses the same neural net-based machine intelligence software which powers many of Google’s products including image and voice search. Machine Learning is a set of algorithms, tools and techniques that mimic human learning to solve specific problems.
Machine learning methods analyse existing data sets with the objective of learning to recognise patterns in training data, making predictions from previously unseen data.
The bigger the data set the more complex the patterns the model can recognise and the more accurate the predictions. Today, well trained machine learning models are said to able to perform predictive analytics faster and better than a human.
Rolls-Royce will use Google Cloud’s software to create bespoke machine learning models which can interpret large and diverse marine data sets created by the company. Rolls-Royce’s experience and expertise in the maritime sector will be used to prepare the data to train models, ensuring that it is relevant and in sufficient quantity to create statistical significance.
As part of the machine learning process, the models’ predictions will be evaluated in practical marine applications, allowing the models to be further refined.
Read a full report on this story in the next issue of The Marine Professional (November 2017).