BMT wins the first Admiralty Marine Innovation Program Challenge

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Using its winning solution, BMT successfully simulated the navigation of an autonomous ship in the Plymouth Sound. [Image: UKHO]

The U.K. Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has announced that international design, engineering, science and risk management consultancy BMT is the winner of the first Admiralty Marine Innovation Program challenge, positioning the company to launch a new solution aimed at enhancing autonomous operations planning using UKHO Admiralty data.

Launched earlier this year, the innovation program aims to help develop new solutions that support safe, secure and thriving oceans. The program’s first challenge focused on “Unlocking Autonomous Navigation’’ and tasked participants with identifying how marine geospatial data can support the safe navigation of commercial autonomous ship.


For this challenge BMT created a new navigation system, which combines two of its simulation technologies — Rembrandt and Tuflow — to enhance autonomous operations planning and real-time navigation safety in busy waterways and ports.

The system successfully simulated the navigation of a 140 meter part-autonomous ferry in Plymouth port using multiple Admiralty data sets, including bathymetry, tidal streams and heights, seabed composition and ship routing. This new application by BMT can also be linked to other external and environmental data sources, including satellite and AIS receivers, to ensure safety and efficiency.

As the challenge winner, BMT will collaborate with the UKHO, utilizing the agency’s marine geospatial data and expertise, to develop an alpha product for the autonomous shipping sector. In addition, as part of this challenge, BMT has won a seat at the IoT Tribe Space Endeavor Accelerator to further develop technologies using satellite-derived data.

Sarah Kenny OBE, Chief Executive of BMT, commented: “We strongly believe in the development and transition to a fully autonomous world and we are particularly proud to put our experience and knowledge towards a challenging navigation project that could become a catalytic factor for industrial innovation in this area and beyond. Thanks to these initiatives, introduced for the very first time this year by the UKHO, BMT will strengthen its technological leadership in a very competitive sector.”

Dr Phil Thompson, Director of Simulation and Training Products at BMT, commented: “Receiving this international award from the highly-esteemed UKHO is indeed an honor. BMT continues to further develop its technological expertise in the field of autonomous vessels navigation with the goal to create a center of excellence in the U.K. for one of the strongest growing maritime sectors.”

Mark Casey, Head of Research, Design and Innovation at the UKHO, said: “We’re delighted to announce BMT as the winner of our Autonomous Navigation Challenge. This is a great achievement for BMT and an exciting milestone in the UKHO’s journey to support safe, secure and thriving oceans.”

The U.K. Hydrographic Office is a leading center for hydrography, providing marine geospatial data to inform maritime decisions. It makes location-based information available through Admiralty Maritime Data Solutions, its range of charts, publications and custom data sets. Our use of marine data and technology, combined with our expertise, ensures we continue to innovate and provide a wider range of solutions.

The UKHO plans to roll out more challenges to help tackle a number of vital issues, including renewable energy generation, blue carbon sequestration and sea-level rise modeling. The next challenge on “Transforming Maritime Risk and Insurance” is currently open for entries HERE.

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