Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Rolls Royce leads Finnish project to develop autonomous (drone) ships

August 8, 2015

After flying drones and the coming of driverless cars it is the turn of autonomous ships. The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) is funding an €6.6 million project called the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative, which Rolls-Royce has been appointed to lead. The project aims to produce the specification and preliminary designs for the next generation of advanced ship solutions – the unmanned, “drone” cargo ship.

drone ship 1 Rolls Royce

drone ship 1 Rolls Royce

RR Press Release:

…… The project will run until the end of 2017 and will pave the way for solutions – designed to validate the project’s research. The project will combine the expertise of some of Finland’s top academic researchers from Tampere University of Technology; VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd; Åbo Akademi University; Aalto University; the University of Turku; and leading members of the maritime cluster including Rolls-Royce, NAPA, Deltamarin, DNV GL and Inmarsat.

Rauli Hulkkonen, Tekes, Chief Advisor, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to establish the Finnish maritime cluster as the world leader in maritime remote control technology.

Esa Jokioinen, Rolls-Royce, Head of Blue Ocean Team, said: “Rolls-Royce has extensive experience of successfully coordinating multi-disciplinary teams developing complex technologies. We bring a world leading range of capabilities in the marine market to the project including vessel design, the integration of complex systems and the supply and support of power and propulsion equipment. We are excited to be taking the first concrete steps towards making remote controlled and autonomous ship applications a reality. 

The wide ranging project will look at research carried out to date before exploring the business case for autonomous applications, the safety and security implications of designing and operating remotely operated ships, the legal and regulatory implications and the existence and readiness of a supplier network able to deliver commercially applicable products in the short to medium term. The technological work stream, which will be led by Rolls-Royce, will encompass the implications of  remote control and autonomy of ships for propulsion, deck machinery and automation and control, using, where possible, established technology for rapid commercialisation.

The Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean team is responsible for research and development of future maritime technologies and focuses on disruptive game-changing innovations. By combining new technologies with new approaches to ship design and system integration, the team aims to reduce operational costs, minimise emissions and enhance the earning capability of vessels. The team has developed a range of autonomous ship concepts as well as innovative designs for various ship types.

An autonomous tanker -- image rolls royce

An autonomous tanker — image rolls royce

Robot ships are currently illegal and the whole maritime regulatory environment would need to be changed to suit. If driverless cars become a reality by 2020, then there is no reason why robot fleets of cargo ships could not be in use by 2030. Bureaucracy will probably be a bigger barrier than technology.

robot fleet image rolls royce

robot fleet image rolls royce

IKEA charges the way of things to come

March 2, 2015

It’s the IKEA desk today and it will not be long before it is everywhere in your office or in your home. IKEA is now rolling  out a line of its desks that will wirelessly charge all your devices that are capable of being wirelessly charged. It will surely not be so long till the day when your devices are automatically and wirelessly charged anywhere in your office or in your home.

IKEA Skrivbord och arbetsbord

WPC Press Release:

Global home furnishings retailer IKEA today announced a product launch of Qi-powered bedside tables, lamps and desks that eliminates cable mess and makes it easier to stay connected with always-charged mobile devices.

IKEA said the wireless charging home furnishings will be available in Europe and North America this April, followed by a global rollout. The announcement girds support for Qi – the leading global wireless charging standard from the Wireless Power Consortium.  

“IKEA is delivering on its vision of making life at home better with this innovative, stylish and useful new collection that show consumers the beauty and simplicity of wireless charging,” said Menno Treffers, WPC chairman. “We applaud IKEA for its unmatched insight and their unique passion for making wireless charging affordable and simple for consumers.”

Qi is the most widely deployed wireless power standard, available in 3,000 hotels, restaurants, airports and public locations worldwide. There are now more than 80 Qi-enabled smartphones, 15 models of Qi-enabled cars and countless Qi mobile accessories in the market today.

“Our belief is that mobile phones are vital parts to people’s lives at home and their desire to stay connected, and Qi addresses an unmet need to keep devices powered,” said Bjorn Block, Range Manager for Lighting and Wireless Charging, at IKEA. “As a member of WPC, we value the access to the leading and most advanced global standard for wireless charging.”   

During Mobile World Congress, WPC will showcase the latest Qi-enabled products at booth 5C41, Hall 5.

About the Wireless Power Consortium and Qi
Established in 2008, the Wireless Power Consortium is an open, collaborative standards development group of more than 200 company members. WPC’s members include Belkin, ConvenientPower, Delphi, Freescale, Haier, HTC, IKEA, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, PowerbyProxi, Royal Philips, Samsung, Sony, TDK, Texas Instruments, Verizon Wireless and ZTE. These companies — large and small competitors and ecosystem partners, from all parts of the industry and all parts of the globe — collaborate for a single purpose: to design and evolve the world’s most useful, safe and efficient standard for wireless power. This global standard is called Qi, and it has become the world’s leading method for transferring electrical power without wires. Qi is designed into 80+ mobile devices, 15 models of cars, has more than 700 registered products that are enjoyed by more than 50 million users worldwide. 

IKEA’s flat-pack refugee shelter

July 2, 2013

This is a project by the IKEA Foundation together with the UNHCR. The target is to produce these refugee shelters for less than $1000 each. Each flat-pack includes a solar panel which powers a built-in lamp and a USB outlet. Each shelter takes 4 hours to assemble, would house 5 people and last 3 – 5 years compared to the 6 months of a conventional refugee tent.

The shelter as a flat pack: image via Fast Company

The Ikea refugee shelter designed to provide refugees with better living conditions

The Ikea refugee shelter via


The E-type turns 50

February 9, 2011

The London Design Museum is putting on a special display to celebrate 50 years of the Jaguar E-type from its launch at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961. In the late 1960’s as an apprentice in England, the E-type represented the stuff of our dreams. But back then when my weekly wage as an engineering apprentice was £3- 10s per week, the £2,000 price tag was as unattainable as a date with Sophia Loren!

In the 1970’s when I could aspire to more,  I actually considered the Triumph GT6 – also known as the “poor-man’s E-type” – but instead I settled for a much more sedate Renault -12. And by the time I could consider its price tag the E-type was no longer in production and my tastes had a decided preference for the comfort of a Mercedes.

The Design Museum celebrates 50 years of the iconic Jaguar E-Type with a display in the Design Museum Tank.

Jaguar E-Type series 1, 1961

Originally launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, the E-Type’s caused an instant sensation. With a 3.8 litre XK engine, a top speed of 150 miles per hour and a price of £2000, the E-Type was an accessible dream and signalled the new era of modernity of the 1960s. Between 1961 and 1974 over 70,000 E-Types were produced.

The bullet-like design of the E-Type was the result of the mathematical and engineering talent of Malcolm Sayer and the E-type was the first large-scale production road car to be developed from the study of aerodynamics. The founder of Jaguar, Sir William Lyons combined his flare for style and luxury with his business and marketing skills to ensure the E-Type became the car of celebrities from George Harrison of the Beatles to footballer George Best

The E-Type on display was manufactured in 1961 and has been provided by Classic Motors Cars Limited.

On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.


Jaguar e-Type series one: image Wikipedia

The E-type was 4.4 m long with a 3.8 litre engine while the GT6 had a length of 3.7 m and a 2 litre engine. Technically and in looks the Triumph GT6 never came close to the E-type, but it looked fast. On the few occasions when I drove a friend’s GT6, my main memory is that it had a decided “tail-wag” when cornering.

1973 Triumph GT6: image Wikipedia

Bot nowadays my tastes are much more sedate and the Jaguar E-type remains the dream it always was. So I shall make do with my Mercedes E-class.

Mercedes E-class 2010: image via Flickr



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