Ship’s bridges of the future will utilise augmented reality. VTT and Rolls-Royce Marine have created futuristic visions of the bridges of tugs, cargo ships and platform supply vessels in 2025.
They have been presented as operational concepts, scenarios, concept pictures and animated 3D videos. When the first concept video was published, it went viral: it was viewed more than 40,000 times in three weeks and became the most popular video on Rolls-Royce’s YouTube channel.
There are more than 500 news articles on the Internet covering the concepts, and the three published concept videos have been viewed more than 100,000 times.
“Our vision was to introduce a new approach to the future of shipping,” says Iiro Lindborg, Rolls-Royce Marine.
For example, the windows of cargo ship bridge could serve as augmented or diminished reality displays of the surroundings to support the crew on board.
“At the moment, the containers are placed in front of the bridge, blocking the view forward as well as to the left and right. In narrow passages, the shoreline may not be visible to the crew. However, it is possible to display a realistic view of the surroundings by combining, for example, advanced camera footage, sensor information and diminished reality.”
The windows of the bridge can, for instance, display information related to propulsion and navigation, as well as routes of other vessels. This allows the crew to keep looking through the windows at all times.
Research Scientist Hannu Karvonen explains that while many of the technical solutions seen in the videos could be implemented with today’s technologies, legislation does not allow their use yet.
An innovative step
The shipping industry is strictly regulated, but Lindborg from Rolls-Royce believes that the solutions are likely to be implementable in ten years, if not sooner.
“If adopted, these concepts would mean a seismic transformation in the industry. They would allow remote steering, and data would be transferred by means of digital technologies to support safe operations,” he says.
According to Karvonen, the concept planning in the project was based on extensive preparation. The project team observed the work of crews on bridges, and interviewed them.
“We studied the work of crews on bridges and their interaction with technologies, identifying the most important areas and areas where it would be possible to improve safety and work satisfaction,” Karvonen explains.
When planning concepts like these, VTT aims to make operations more efficient and comfortable by seeking new solutions that enhance operating methods, as well as the usability and user experience of technologies. This is possible by specifying concrete user experience objectives to support planning.
“In this project, we started by asking what the user experience should be like on ship’s bridges,” Karvonen says.
In his view, industrial internet applications tend to be technology-driven: devices are connected to the each other without considering the actual needs of the users. If industrial internet is introduced into the shipping industry by utilizing a user-driven approach, it could bring about a major transition in the whole industry.
The future bridge project was part of the FIMECC UXUS programme. FIMECC is the Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster.