Innovate UK awards funding for autonomous navigation research

The REMBRANDT simulator will be used to create 3D datasets.

BMT will take the lead in a new £1.2million (US$1.6 million) research project funded by Innovate UK.

Collaborating with ASV Global and Deimos Space UK, BMT will seek to address the challenge of how traditional manned vessels can co-exist with autonomous systems in shared water space.

Deimos Space UK, the British subsidiary of Elecnor Deimos, will investigate how existing and future satellite capabilities can contribute.

It is hoped the SWANS (Shared Waterspace Autonomous Navigation by Satellite) project will allow unmanned surface vessels to operate autonomously in areas of congested maritime traffic.

The team’s objectives include simulating new scenarios for ASV operations; combining ASV Global’s autonomous vessel control simulator and BMT’s REMBRANDT ship manoeuvring simulator into a single suite capable of visualising 3D datasets, and evaluating multi-vessel conflict scenarios in the real world.

BMT Managing Director Phil Thompson said autonomous vessels largely use AIS (automatic identification system) as a collision avoidance tool but risk colliding with vessels not using AIS.

“Others rely upon water space management and the actions of other water users to avoid collisions – neither of which go far enough in reducing the risk of a collision occurring,” said Mr Thompson.

“This funding is critical in helping us to overcome this barrier by developing the first ever commercially ready, safe-over-the-horizon operating system for congested water spaces.”

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