The lowly tugboat might not be the first vehicle that pops into your mind when you hear the name Rolls-Royce. We'd hardly blame you for that. After all, when a car company touts itself as making "the best car in the world," its hard to imagine it doing much else. But Rolls-Royce is far from a one-trick pony, and it seems that revolutionizing the shipping business will be its next goal.
After recently unveiling its autonomous shipping fleet concept, Rolls-Royce has now turned its focus to the little boats that do all the real grunt work around the harbor. By the year 2025, Rolls-Royce imagines tugboat captains seated behind massive head-up displays, watching ice floes pop up onscreen after being detected by the ship's sensors. Even in the dead of night, objects and destinations will be perfectly visible, whether or not they're obscured by objects on the ship's deck.
Once the captain sets foot on the bridge, the entire room reconfigures itself, providing a perfectly ergonomic and user-specific environment. Video feeds from the boat's cameras can be seen not only by the captain, but can also be shared with deckhands and the crews of other vessels. This way, the tug's captain can provide visual instructions as well as verbal ones. Soon, augmented reality and drones could control every bit of the shipping industry, making it easier, quicker and safer to send things across the world's oceans.