Skip to the content

UK Hydrographic Office develops data for autonomous shipping


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has reported that it has been working on a project to identify the future data requirements for autonomous shipping.

It has been working on a Government funded study on the navigational requirements and the wider use of geospatial data, along with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and L3 ASV, a specialist in autonomous vessel control systems.

The study has been funded by the Department for Transport’s Transport Technology Research Innovation Grant (T-TRIG) and been aimed at supporting the development of charts that can be read by digital systems.

UKHO has already explored the characteristics of current navigational data and charts in terms of what they comprise, their structure and how they are updated. It has also examined how these datasets 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.

The organisation said it believes findings from the study will help to support the development of navigational requirements for autonomous shipping and will now look to use its expertise in marine geospatial data to support further developments.

Developed expertise

Mark Casey, head of research, innovation and integration at the UKHO, commented: "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.”

Minister for Shipping Nusrat Ghani said: “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.”

UKHO recently announced plans for a handful of projects exploring the use of marine data on behalf of the Geospatial Commission.

Image from OiMax CC BY 2.0 through flickr

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.