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Mark Casey, Katrina Kemp, Dan Hook and Alisdair Pettigrew discuss how marine data can support autonomous shipping.

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Navigation has made significant advances over the last few decades and shipping now stands on the cusp of the next step in its digital journey: autonomous vessels.

In fact, by 2030, we estimate this sector will be worth a staggering £111 billion and employ over 554,000 people.

Central to its development is blue data, which will enable the safe and efficient navigation of tomorrow’s autonomous vessels.

In this panel, Mark Casey, Katrina Kemp, Dan Hook and Alisdair Pettigrew discuss how the geospatial community can support this journey and unlock the potential of unmanned commercial vessels, including:

  • What key benefits can autonomous vessels bring to shipping and the wider blue economy?
  • What data can support the safe and efficient navigation of autonomous vessels?
  • How could we make this data more interoperable for autonomous vessels?
  • How will autonomous ships sit within the regulatory framework?
Autonomous Vessels – Credit Thalis

Setting the foundations for autonomous shipping

Autonomous ships have the potential to transform the maritime industry. But how can such vessels navigate safely without a full crew on board?

To help meet this challenge, we have been working with a range of partners to support vital testing and research across the sector. This includes collaboration with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to support the development of new regulations and work with Thales to understand how unmanned vessels could support military operations

These projects build on ground-breaking research conducted for the Department of Transport in 2018, where we helped to scope future data requirements for autonomous shipping. This included the concept of a ‘smart chart’ system -  bringing together data such as radio signals, regulations, tides and bathymetry into a machine-readable format. 

As we move closer to realising the opportunities of autonomous shipping, we will continue to support these new data requirements and emerging standards, to enable the safe navigation of tomorrow’s autonomous vessels.

Innovation Programme Autonomous Trial

Supporting innovation

In 2020 we launched the ADMIRALTY Marine Innovation Programme to give innovators and start-ups a chance to develop new solutions that could solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges when it comes to our oceans.

The programme’s first innovation challenge tasked participants with identifying how marine geospatial data could support the safe navigation of commercial autonomous ships.

The winning solution, developed by BMT, used simulation technologies and ADMIRALTY data to enhance autonomous operations planning and real-time navigation safety in busy waterways and ports.

The system successfully simulated the navigation of a 140m part-autonomous ferry in Plymouth port using multiple data sets, including bathymetry, tidal streams and heights, seabed composition and ship routing.

Following this success, we are now working alongside BMT to develop an alpha product for the autonomous shipping sector.

Read more about the winning solution

Mark Casey

Name
Mark Casey

Job description
Head of Research, Design and Innovation, UK Hydrographic Office
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Mark is responsible for identifying and developing new solutions that use marine geospatial data to support commercial shipping and the wider blue economy. 

Dr Katrina Kemp

Name
Dr Katrina Kemp

Job description
Smart Ships and Automation Policy Officer, Maritime & Coastguard Agency
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Katrina leads the MCA’s regulatory response to autonomous shipping. She represents the UK at the IMO’s Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships working group and is working closely with industry as part of the international regulatory scoping exercise.

Dan Hook

Name
Dan Hook

Job description
Managing Director, Ocean Infinity
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Dan leads the development of a new robotic shipping business for the Ocean Infinity Group. He was also one of the founding members of ASV Global, now known as L3 Harris ASV, and held the position of Managing Director.

Alisdair Pettigrew

Name
Alisdair Pettigrew

Job description
Managing Director, BLUE Communications
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Alisdair is co-founder of BLUE Communications, a leading global business, brand, PR, digital marketing, and communications consultancy, which delivers strategic intelligence to reputation management in a range of global industries.

Contact the Research, Design and Innovation team

If you would like to speak to Mark or any of the Research, Design and Innovation team about our work with autonomous vessels, you can contact us using the form below.

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