Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, announced its participation in the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) recently launched by Rolls-Royce.

The project, funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), will bring industry partners together with universities, research institutes, ship owners and other stakeholders to explore the economic, social, legal, regulatory and technological factors which need to be addressed in order to make autonomous ships a reality. Inmarsat’s role in the project is to provide the satellite communications link and platform, which is essential to remote control capability.

Data transfer between ships, as well as between ships and shore-based control centres, is one of the key development areas for remote controlled and autonomous ship research and forms a fundamental element of the AAWA Initiative. The AAWA Initiative will build on existing ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication platforms and their effectiveness for supporting remote control functionality. Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service, delivered through the company’s Global Xpress and L-band constellations, is the world’s first hybrid Ka/L-band mobile satellite system, forms the basis of the system.

“The launch of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress mobile broadband network, which forms the heart of the new Fleet Xpress service, is a real turning point for the future of the maritime industry and ideally lends itself to the AAWA Initiative,” commented Ronald Spithout, President Inmarsat Maritime.