Maritime autonomous navigation in GPS-limited environments
Case study from Polaris Consulting who pitched their ideas to industry and investors at the CDE Marketplace on 6 September 2016.
Polaris Consulting Ltd was funded by the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to develop a way to support autonomous vessels in global positioning systems (GPS) denied environments.
The company researched and developed an algorithm that combines the outputs from the vessel’s sensors along with prior knowledge of local landmarks and coastal features to provide an estimate of it’s position.
The algorithm consists of 2 phases. Firstly, individual sensors provide position estimates (for example from radar and optical cameras). Then in the second phase, an extended kalman filter was used to combine the positional information from each sensor to derive a final computed position. This took into account how accurate the position provided by each sensor was in different environmental conditions. For example, in foggy conditions, there would be low confidence in the position provided by the camera.
The algorithm was tested using REMBRANDT, a shipping simulator developed by BMT ARGOSS. Within Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent for the chosen route, different environmental conditions were simulated (calm seas, choppy seas, tidal conditions, fog etc) to assess the accuracy of the algorithm. The average deviation in position compared to GPS was less than 35m, a significant achievement, particularly as the maximum deviation was nearly always less than 100m.
Future work will include the addition of new sensors to improve positional accuracy by using navigational markers and buoys as reference points, a mission execution decision module and a test on an autonomous vessel at sea provided by ASV Ltd.
David Bangert, Founder, Polaris Consulting Ltd says:
Winning funding for 3 CDE proposals has been of huge benefit to Polaris. They have enabled us to apply our analysis expertise to some cutting edge defence problems, build partnerships with other companies, and raise the profile of the business. Like most SMEs, we relish a challenge, and CDE has expanded our horizons and will undoubtedly provide us with new opportunities in the future. It’s also good to be working with like-minded partners to deliver tangible benefits for the UK’s Armed Services.
CDE funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. We work with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to develop cost-effective capabilities for UK armed forces and national security.
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