Rolls-Royce and Google sign AI deal

Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement with Google to further develop its intelligent awareness systems. Image: Rolls-Royce Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement with Google to further develop its intelligent awareness systems. Image: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement with Google to further develop its intelligent awareness systems, which are improving the safety of existing vessels and are vital to making autonomous ships a reality.

The deal lets Rolls-Royce use Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine to further train the company’s artificial intelligence-based object classification system in sensing, identifying and tracking the objects that a vessel can come across at sea.

Machine Learning is a set of algorithms, tools and techniques which mimic human learning to solve particular problems, with its methods analysing existing data sets to learn to recognise patterns in training data and to make predictions from formerly unseen data.

The Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine uses the same neural, net-based machine intelligence software powering many of Google’s products, like image and voice search.

Rolls-Royce will use Google Cloud’s software to create tailor-made machine learning models able to interpret large and varied marine data sets from Rolls-Royce.

The transport company’s maritime sector expertise will be used to prepare the data to train models, ensuring that it is relevant and of a sufficient quantity to generate statistical significance.

Within the machine learning process, the models’ predictions will be evaluated in practical marine applications, meaning that the models will be further refined.

Accessing this software through the Cloud means that the models can be developed anywhere and are immediately available worldwide.

Models can therefore be trained on large quantities of data, which will be necessary as autonomous ships become commonplace.

Commenting on the partnership, Karno Tenovuo, senior vice president for Ship Intelligence at Rolls-Royce, said: “While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient.

“By working with Google Cloud we can make these systems better faster, saving lives.”

Rolls-Royce and Google plan on undertaking joint research on unsupervised and multimodal learning and will also examine whether speech recognition and synthesis are viable solutions for human-machine interfaces in marine applications.

The two companies will also work on enhancing the performance of local neural network computing on ships using open-source machine intelligence software libraries like Google’s TensorFlow.

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