An innovation programme has started for developing technology to facilitate navigation of autonomous ships, a sector that is anticipated to be worth £111Bn (US$143Bn) by 2030
The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has launched its Admiralty Marine Innovation programme to encourage organisations to develop technology to facilitate unmanned shipping and marine renewable energy.
UKHO expects future developments will use its marine geospatial datasets to support new areas for tidal and wind energy generation, carbon sequestration and safe navigation of larger autonomous ships and anticipates innovation programme participants will develop their own solutions for these areas, using Admiralty datasets.
These range from seabed composition samples and bathymetric profiles of the seafloor, to tidal and navigational information.
UKHO would work alongside entrants and assist successful organisations to launch their products into what it says are “some of the world’s fastest growing marine sectors”.
Commenting on the launch of the Admiralty Marine Innovation programme, UKHO head of research, design and innovation Mark Casey said this was a “milestone in our journey to help many marine sectors solve some of the core issues we face”.
“We believe that our challenges will support innovation across the blue economy and encourage digital leaders to use marine geospatial data in new and varied ways,” said Mr Casey.
“We would encourage anyone with the skills or a big idea in these areas to get in touch, get involved, and help unlock the power of marine geospatial data.”
One of these key areas is unlocking autonomous navigation. UKHO is seeking participants to identify, trial and prove how navigational data can be used to support the safe navigation of marine autonomous surface ships.
Each selected participant will have access to Admiralty data and expertise, with winners receiving prizes worth £175,000 (US$225,000) and “an opportunity to launch their product in a sector estimated to be worth £111Bn by 2030” UKHO said.
Applications for this challenge, the first of many to come, will close on 7th October 2020.
This comes as a large autonomous vessel was launched in preparation for the first-ever transatlantic crossing by an unmanned ship.
Mayflower autonomous and solar-powered research vessel was launched in Plymouth, UK, after two years of design and construction. This vessel has an artificial intelligence AI Captain, built by ProMare and IBM, which gives Mayflower the ability to sense, think and make decisions at sea with no human onboard crew.
This marine AI is underpinned by IBM’s advanced edge computing systems, automation software, computer vision technology and Red Hat open source software.
Mayflower will undergo six months of sea trials and various research missions and voyages before attempting to cross the Atlantic in Q2 2021.
UKHO expects to hold subsequent innovation challenges with innovators invited to develop solutions for areas including maritime insurance, tidal and wave energy generation, blue carbon sequestration and sea-level rise modelling. Dates for these challenges will be confirmed throughout 2020 and 2021.
UKHO set up this innovation programme with RE_SET, which is a strategy consultancy for disruption, innovation and sustainability. It uses the Springwise global innovation platform to support organisations with new initiatives.
Marine innovations in the world’s blue economy will be discussed and presented during Riviera Maritime Media’s series of webinars and virtual conferences in Q4 2020 - use this link to access more information and to register for these online events