The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced plans to carry out autonomous ship trials at a site in Portland harbour in Dorset, on England’s south coast, which will act as a testbed for a new online data-sharing platform for companies involved in marine autonomous surface ships (MASS) projects.
The new testbed was chosen by MCA’s MARLab group, which includes Solis Marine Consultants and Maritrace. The aim of the project is to allow data collected around marine traffic moments, weather and even sea bed information to be shared among industry stakeholders and applied in the programming of their own autonomous vessels.
Creating a single unified platform as a central repository for all of the data sources available at the port should streamline access for all interested parties, accelerating development in MASS projects.
“There is an interesting challenge involved in harmonising those sources into a single distribution platform, however the quality of those sources and the enthusiasm and cooperation we have received from the Portland harbour authority have been incredibly helpful as part of this exciting project,” said Tom Owen, MD at Maritrace.
“The MARLab project team will now move forward with software development whilst continuing to engage with the UK MASS industry to determine how data sets held by the MCA and other government organisations can be best utilised with a view to encouraging the testing of autonomous and smart vessels in the UK.”