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‘Smart Charts’ under development by UKHO

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has confirmed that it has made a contribution to a new UK government-funded study on navigational requirements for autonomous maritime vessels, working on development of a prototype ‘Smart Chart’ navigational data system.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The UKHO has been working together with partner organisations L3 ASV and the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify future data requirements for autonomous shipping, and explore how navigational and wider geospatial data can be used to enable the safe navigation of smart and unmanned autonomous vessels.

As part of this study, funded by the UK Department for Transport’s Transport Technology Research Innovation Grant (T-TRIG), the partners have started by exploring the characteristics of current navigational data and charts in terms of what they comprise, their structure and how they are updated.

These data sets are being examined to assess how they could be repurposed to develop a prototype ‘Smart Chart’ system, incorporating data such as radio signals, regulations, tides and foundation navigational data, that can be interpreted by a computer without the use of an onboard crew.

“A wealth of marine geospatial data, from bathymetry depicting the seafloor to the speed and direction of the tides, supports navigation across our oceans,” said Mark Casey, head of research, innovation and integration at the UKHO.

“For over 200 years, the UKHO has sourced, processed and supplied this information to shipping and defence to help keep mariners safe at sea. We have developed our expertise in sourcing and processing this location-based information to help others better understand the marine environment.”

“With our expertise and knowledge of data required for safe navigation, we are well placed to help our partners identify the data requirements and standards needed to support the use of autonomous vessels of the future.”

The UKHO believes findings from the study will help to support the development of navigational requirements for autonomous shipping and will look to use its expertise in marine geospatial data to help further develop this area of shipping.

Commenting on the study, Nusrat Ghani, UK Shipping Minister, said: “As we move through the 21st century, technology will continue to transform the UK’s world-leading maritime sector.”

“Innovations such as Smart Charts pave the way for automation and Smart Shipping, and we are keen to support British companies making the most of new technologies, giving our vibrant sector a competitive edge. Technology and innovation are a key part of our Maritime 2050 initiative, which will set a vision for the growth and success of our maritime sector over the next 30 years.”{/mprestriction}

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