The UK Hydraulic Office (UKHO) recent ran its first ADMIRALTY Marine Innovation Programme Challenge. UKHO describe this first Challenge as follows:
"The possibility of partially or fully autonomous ships promises to be nothing short of transformative for the maritime industry. By 2030, we estimate the global autonomous shipping sector to be worth a staggering £111 billion and employ over 554,000 people.
As the sector grows, these ships will need to travel safely between ports, react to dynamic situations and operate differently when entering locations such as Marine Protected Areas and MARPOL boundaries.
Whilst sense and avoid technologies can support some of these tasks, these ships will need accurate and compliant navigational data to travel safely. However, today’s navigation products and services are not designed for use by autonomous technology, with mariners using experience, training and what they see out of the window to safely interpret and use a nautical chart.
This challenge tasks contestants to identify, trial and prove how navigational data can be used to support the safe navigation of Marine Autonomous Surface Ships"
BMT REMBRANDT (Real Time Manoeuvring Berthing And Training), a 3D time domain, navigation and seakeeping ship simulation software application, and TUFLOW FV hydraulic modelling software were coupled to meet and win the UKHO Autonomous Ship Navigation Challenge.
The combination of TUFLOW FV simulating near-shore tidal currents that were fed into the BMT REMBRANDT system was key to successfully simulating the navigation of a 140m part-autonomous ferry in Plymouth Port. Multiple ADMIRALTY data sets, including bathymetry, tidal streams and heights, seabed composition and ship routing were compiled and a model created within two days.
As the challenge winner, the REMBRANDT and TUFLOW Teams will collaborate with the UKHO, utilising marine geospatial data and expertise, to develop an alpha product for the autonomous shipping sector.