Dorset’s Portland harbour in the UK has been chosen as a test site for a data sharing platform to be used in autonomous shipping projects.
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) MARLab consortium, whose partners include Solis Marine Consultants and vessel tracking provider MariTrace, will establish the online platform at the Portland site to facilitate the exchange of valuable maritime data. The sharing and collation of data at the site will support and inform the development and testing of mobile and autonomous surface ships (MASS); with data on marine traffic incidents, weather conditions and the sea bed used to program vessels deployed in UK autonomous shipping projects.
Ros Blazejczyk, project manager at Solis Marine Consultants, said: “Portland presents an ideal choice for this test as a well-defined harbour which is big enough for a MASS test area but not so large that data sets for this viability study become unwieldy.”
Port management at Portland harbour currently uses data from a diverse variety of sources. Maritrace MD Tom Owen said: “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. 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.”
Dr Katrina Kemp at the MCA said: “This project forms a vital part of a wider initiative by the MCA to make sure the UK is a world leader in autonomous and smart shipping, with UK waters being open for testing of this exciting new technology.”