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Welcome to the future shipboard workplace

Posted: February 9, 2015


Welcome to the future shipboard workplace

“Intelligent” ship systems are fast becoming a reality, and Rolls-Royce has revealed its vision for the future – ‘smart’ workstations that:

1. Recognise you and adjust to your own preferences

2. They will have augmented reality bridge window displays of key information and hazards that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye

3. And systems that monitor your performance to flag up fatigue risks and training needs

According to Rolls-Royce these clever computers will help to improve seafarers’ working conditions and cut human error.


The future is closer than we think

Rolls-Royce has unveiled their first “Unified Bridge” on board a new platform supply vessel and predicts that ‘Ship Intelligence’ will be the next major transition for the industry. Installed on board the 4,829gt Norwegian flagged PSV Stril Luna, it seeks to provide watch keepers with ‘a functional and easily used human/machine interface’. Rolls-Royce technical manager Ludvig, Kåre Øyen said that their ‘key aims in designing the Unified Bridge have been to offer the operator performance, simplicity and safety with proximity, with an improved view of the aft deck’.

Stril Luna’s master Captain Lars Aure said the Unified Bridge improves the working environment and should improve safety once ‘fine-tuning’ of elements such as screen heights for best sightlines has been completed. Controls are easy to use and logical to handle, and information presented on the screens is clear according to the vessels master captain.


So what is the Unified Bridge all about?

Referred to as the ‘bridge with a brain’ its layout involves two operator chairs on slides, one each side of a centre console. Outside each chair is an outer console, with joysticks and control handles positioned so that the operator can work comfortably from a standing to sitting position.

Necessary data is displayed on 26in touchscreens, while other systems are monitored and controlled from a series of smaller touchscreens located in the consoles. According to Rolls-Royce the setup is flexible so that different screens can be used for different systems and functions as the operators prefer. Because most functions are accessed via touchscreen the number of buttons on the consoles has been greatly reduced as a result.


Future Development

With human error blamed for 75% of shipping accidents and seafarer fatigue being a major risk factor, systems that monitor crew activities may well become more commonplace. Ship intelligence will be the enabler for machines to do some of the jobs done by humans today. Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce VP for innovation, engineering and technology, said the system is a practical response to the increasingly complex equipment now being fitted to ships.

It’s Future Operator Experience Concept – ‘oX’ – not only offers the crew smart work stations, but also amplified reality bridge window displays of the vessel’s surroundings, including visualisation of potential hazards that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. The system can pinpoint icebergs or tugs and other crafts that may not be visible to the crew, especially on large containerships.

Rolls-Royce future developments are closer than we think and with the Norwegian- flagged platform supply vessel Stril Luna been fitted with the first ergonomic Unified Bridge, it won’t be long until ‘oX’ concept isn’t too far behind.





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