Marine engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has been at the vanguard of the development of autonomous vessels, while hi-tech giant Google is one of the leaders in all things artificial intelligence. The two today signed a deal that will see them jointly work on the next phase of drone ship technology – employing Google’s machine learning engine technology – behind its image and voice recognition – to develop software that will enable autonomous ships to “detect, identify and track surface objects” at sea. And, regardless of whether they will actually lead to the deployment of fully-automated vessels, there is likely to be at least some sort of interim period in which the software is used on bridges alongside AIS and radar systems… as well as good old eyeballs, of course.

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