At the Singapore show Rolls-Royce is debuting a new idea based on big data.  It calls this the “IntelligentEngine.”  Rolls-Royce says the IntelligentEngine vision is based on a belief that the worlds of product and service have become so closely connected that they are now inseparable. This trend was first identified when Rolls-Royce introduced the market-defining TotalCare® service in the 1990s and, since then, advancements in digital capability have accelerated this change and further blurred the boundary between the two.

Richard Goodhead, SVP Marketing at Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, says the “IntelligentEngine” is “the confluence of three concepts—product, services and digital—coming together.” He further said that when OEM’s Total Care program started for their Trent engines, “the circles started to overlap” so now Rolls-Royce is “taking far more data and doing far more with it.”   Mr. Goodhead explained that the “Three Cs—connected, contextually aware and comprehending” means their engines will be able to learn from its experiences and from other engines.

  • Connected – with other engines, its support ecosystem, and with its customer, allowing for regular, two-way flow of information between many parties
  • Contextually aware – of its operating context, constraints and the needs of the customer, allowing it to respond to the environment around it without human intervention
  • Comprehending – learning from its own experiences and from its network of peers to adjust its behaviour and achieve best performance

Rolls-Royce wants its next generation engines to be even smarter; communicating that allows, for example, getting weather data so that engine blades are angled and thrust optimized to minimize fuel burn — all without any input from the pilot.  “With the digital revolution blurring the boundaries between our physical products and the services we provide, we see a future where our engines are connected, contextually aware and even comprehending,” Dominic Horwood, Rolls-Royce’s director for customers, said Monday at the Singapore Air Show.  He went on to suggest that in the future, engines may become so advanced that they can detect issues via sensors and then fix themselves by deploying robotic worms.

That is some vision.

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