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ESA ship trackPARIS: December 06, 2017. The European Space Agency (ESA) and Rolls-Royce have signed an MoU to investigate how space technology can be used to develop autonomous and remote-controlled ships.

The two organizations plan to apply various space assets to autonomous shipping, such as satellite- based positioning, better situational awareness using Earth observation data, and Satcom services for improved onboard connectivity.

The partners will test, validate and innovate on Satcom connectivity technologies and applications between vessel and shore, as well as support the testing and modeling of safety-critical software that would make self-operated ships viable.

ESA says it supports technology and supply chain solutions required to combine terrestrial and space services, with a focus on maritime, aviation and land base transport, and on other vertical markets including public safety.

"This partnership between ESA and Rolls-Royce will enable satellites to serve ship intelligence, marine operations, navigation, cargo logistics, maritime safety, healthcare, passenger and crew communications," explained ESA director general Jan Wörner.

The proposed unified space-and-ground service will enable the operation of commercial autonomous shipping, as well as drive innovation in future commercial marine vessels, cargo logistics and smart ports, Wörner added.

ESA manages the European Space program on behalf of its 22 members: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

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