Maritime 2050 – Navigating in the future – Technology and innovation in UK Maritime: The case of Autonomy


Maritime 2050 - navigating the future is an ambitious, long-term strategy that enables the UK to remain a major maritime nation. Technology and Innovation have been set as key important factors that ensure the success of this strategy.

The technology sector of the UK is growing rapidly. The digital sector alone contributed £130.5bn to the UK economy in 2017. The industry has estimated that maritime autonomous systems will bring significant new business and leadership opportunities for UK innovators. It is predicted that in the coming fourteen years, UK will control 10% of the market share in a global maritime autonomy market worth $136bn, provided it can act as an early adopter. 

Technological trends that will change the maritime sector

Key enabling technologies in the maritime autonomy market include advanced sensors, internet of things, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, algorithms, data analytics, drones, new materials, augmented reality and virtual reality, distributed ledger technology, additive manufacturing, and propulsion technology. These new technologies will make the sector cleaner, safer, more efficient and competitive. 

To implement maritime autonomous systems, it will be necessary to develop new physical infrastructure. The new docking facilities at the ports will include power generation facilities, communications networks, and shore control centers for remotely operated vessels. The ports provide the perfect environment to develop clusters of expertise that bring up new innovative ideas for smarter supply chains. 

Digital connectivity and shore-side control centers are considered key pieces of infrastructure for human operators to remotely control vessels and monitor the status of autonomous systems. 

Moving forward towards a sustainable smart shipping sector

The UK Government will establish a Center for Smart Shipping (CSmart) to lead and coordinate the work in maritime technology and innovation.

By Maria Paula Ar…