Portonomy – Integrating autonomous vessel activity with port operations led by Marico Marine
The UK Government expressed the ambition that UK ports should become testbeds for autonomous vessel technologies, and Port Authorities are responsible for the safety of navigation within their Statutory Harbour Authority (SHA) areas.
The Portonomy project developed a practicable consenting process to allow UK Port Authorities to safely permit the testing and operation of autonomous vessels in their waters. In addition, a proof-of-concept system (the Portonomy System) was developed, that will enable Port Authorities and autonomous vessel operators to implement the required risk control measures in a cost-effective manner.
In this project, with the new risk control measures in place, Newhaven Port Authority would be happy for the autonomous vessel use-case to operate without a guard vessel. This represents a significant achievement in removing a key economic hurdle to the day-to-day use of autonomy in UK waters, since a guard vessel can cost between £1000 – £5,000+ / day. In addition, the key risk control measures that need to be implemented are establishing VHF communications between the autonomous vessel pilot and Port Control, and sharing the operational picture available to Port Control with the autonomous vessel pilot, giving them a much greater degree of maritime situational awareness.