New Autonomous Navigation System Put to the Test

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 15, 2020

(Photo: tgroup)

(Photo: tgroup)

A rigorous sea trials program has demonstrated that a new autonomous navigation system can safely navigate unmanned vessels in real-time and in a real-life environment—without human intervention.

U.K.-based tpgroup said its patent pending Northstar was successfully used on different platforms and within a range of environments that include congested waterways and in open water.  This level of technological maturity (technical readiness level 7) means that it can be developed for unmanned missions within the maritime sector.

Northstar delivers real-time optimum route management and collision avoidance for unmanned platforms, in any environment (including GPS-denied), without human control. It achieves this through fusing real-time and reference data to create a layered 3D synthetic environment, and optimizing paths within this digital environment – along with considering platform dynamics against user-defined measures of performance, time, cost and risk. It continuously re-plans to reflect changing circumstances, allowing for additional factors that could influence the route pathing to be introduced at any time.

This advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning software has satisfied Phase 3 of a two-year MOD program, which saw tpgroup working with Thales and other contributors, to demonstrate autonomous navigation within unmanned missions, the company said.

Luke Tucker, tpgroup’s Group Consulting & Services Director, said, “We are proud of our achievement in advancing autonomous navigation for unmanned vessels within the maritime sector, and look forward to progressing our land trials for unmanned vehicles in 2021.

This is a significant milestone in our ambitious autonomy program to develop a system of systems, enabling the coordination and synchronization of multiple platforms—and establishing tpgroup as the UK’s primary provider of autonomous navigation software for complex environments.”

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