Royal College of Art students tackle marine sector dangers under Foundation’s Safety Grand Challenges campaign

• Projects identified new lifesaving design solutions to safety at sea and on rivers 

• Winners of best innovation and best risk reduction designs announced 

Design students from the Royal College of Art (RCA) have taken up our  Safety Grand Challenges and have been looking at ways design-led innovation can bring new lifesaving design solutions to safety at sea and on rivers. Students focused on creating innovative design solutions that specifically consider: safer ship-to-ship transfers and improving life-saving and risk reduction innovations for future deployment on the river Thames.

The process of transfer using a pilot ladder has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, with many fatalities and serious accidents occurring globally. Students developed their designs through field trips to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Port of London Authority.  Detailed feedback was provided from maritime experts from Lloyd's Register, The UK Confidential Reporting Programme for Aviation and Maritime (CHIRP), International Maritime Pilots Association, the International Maritime Rescue Federation, the Foundation for Science and Technology and Nesta.

An exhibition of the eight design projects was held at the Foundation’s offices in London from 21-24 February and students presented their ideas to a judging panel of industry experts. The two winning projects both concerned the pilot ladder:

• best innovation prize, based upon their use of advanced manufacturing materials and processes, went to Dynaweb, designed by Chia Cheng Kung, Chih-Hsing Huang, Irene Chiu, Nick Hooton

• best risk reduction, with the most immediate potential, went to Cross Lock System (CLS), designed by Andrea Carrera, Madelaine Jane Dowd, Mikhail Wertheim Aymés, and Sarah Cronin Rodger.

Dr Tim Slingsby, the Foundation’s Director of Skills & Education and chair of the panel of the judges, said: “The enthusiasm and dedication with which the RCA students have approached this Safety Grand Challenge project does them great credit. Their innovative prototypes have real potential for further Foundation investment towards development and exploitation, and we are looking forward to the next steps in this process with the RCA and our colleagues in Lloyd’s Register.”

Professor Ashley Hall, Project Leader and Deputy Head of Innovation Design Engineering at the RCA said: “Safety in relation to safe ship boarding and around rivers is of global concern. Hundreds of people die each year as a result of unsafe practices, risky behaviours or lack of information and understanding. Our team of postgraduate designers, researchers and academics have worked together to research, design and develop new innovations that bring multidisciplinary innovative solutions targeting design risk and safety on water.”

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The Foundation is now working with Lloyd’s Register and the RCA to review all the projects to consider which ideas would be good to take forward into further testing and modelling and possible production.  

The Foundation’s Safety Grand Challenges campaign was launched in October 2016 with a consultation exercise to identify how the safety of critical infrastructures, and the people who build, operate and maintain this infrastructure, is threatened today and into the future. The findings of the consultation will be published in a foresight review that will outline the key safety issues and suggest types of innovation and initiatives that could address these challenges. The RCA’s project was a pilot programme under the campaign.

The judging panel were: Dr Tim Slingsby, Director of Skills & Education, Lloyd’s Register Foundation (panel chair); from the Royal College of Art - Professor Paul Anderson, Dean of the School of Design and Professor Ashley Hall, Deputy Head of Innovation Design Engineering; from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Dr Will Roberts, Senior Innovation Manager, Jeff Gould, Head of Innovation and Tim Robertson, Innovation Delivery Manager; Chris Hoyles, Marine Pilot at Associated British Ports; and Dr Vanessa Forbes, Lloyd’s Register’s health, safety, environment and sustainability Global Operations Manager. 

Photographs – click to download - > Royal College of Art students at the awards; > Dynaweb team; > Cross Lock System (CLS) team

The Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is the world’s leading university of art and design, placing at Number One in the 2016 and 2015 QS World University Rankings. Specialising in teaching and research, the RCA offers the degrees of MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD across the disciplines of applied art, fine art, design, communications and humanities. There are over 1,500 Master’s and doctoral students and more than 1,000 professionals interacting with them – including scholars, art and design practitioners, along with specialists, advisers and distinguished visitors.