A UK study led by Rolls-Royce has demonstrated that a combination of relatively basic sensors and a simple set of algorithms can enable unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to meet or exceed the International Maritime Organisation (IMO’s) COLREGS collision-avoidance regulations.
The results from the study, which was concluded in late March, potentially mean that new legislation will not necessarily have to be developed to govern the growing use of unmanned systems in and around busy shipping areas.
The Machine Executable Collision Regulations for Marine Autonomous Systems (MAXCMAS) project created algorithms based on close study of crews in the Warsash Maritime Academy’s (WMA) networked bridge simulators. These were then integrated with a set of COLREGS-interpreted rules that were uploaded into the navigation and control software in an Atlas Elektronik Atlas Remote Capability Integrated Mission Suite (ARCIMS) USV for live trials.
Once the MAXCMAS concept had been proven in simulators, ARCIMS was deployed with its standard sensor and navigation suite, along with the Atlas Elektronik Autonomy Engine to plan a passage. The craft subsequently completed its transit, employing the MAXCMAS rule interpretations to guide its routing, even accounting for other - manned - vessels not obeying the COLREGS, or interpreting them differently, and refusing to give way.
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