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Second round of AI funding for shipping announced



Container ship at port with digital background
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The Department for Transport (DfT) has released a second round of funding to promote the development of AI technology in shipping.

On April 30 ports in the UK will have to begin physical checks on goods arriving from the European Union, in a change to shipping that has been delayed a number of times since the UK left the major trading region.

The Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund comes from the existing £206 million UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UKSHORE) programme announced in March 2022.

The fund supports the launch of feasibility studies into smart shipping using AI, autonomous vessels and robotics. For projects to win the competition, they must have match funding from the private sector. The technologies should use AI for safety detection, optimisation of port operations, and reduce environmental harm.

Need for innovation

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive at Maritime UK, said innovation was needed for a dynamic response to major challenges in the UK’s maritime sector.

“These technologies will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve supply chains and generate jobs,” Peter Aylott, director of policy at the UK Chamber of Shipping, said of automation, autonomous vessels and data analytics.

The competition is being managed by Innovate UK, a delivery partner to the Department for Transport.

From April 30, 2024, physical checks of goods arriving at British ports will see charges to importers increase. Goods entering the UK will be subject to a government fee, while some food products will also carry veterinary certificate costs. These fees are likely to add a further 2% to the UK’s food price inflation, according to analysts.

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