UK Government Commits £8m to ‘Make Boats Smarter’

UK Government Commits £8m to ‘Make Boats Smarter’

The UK Government has committed £8m in funding to a new Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund which will be used to support AI-based projects in and around UK ports.

At an event in Southampton, the Maritime Minister Lord Davies announced the launch of the Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund. The fund will be used to kickstart feasibility studies into technologies such as AI, autonomous vessels, and robotics. 

The fund will be open to ports and will require match funding - thus leveraging private sector investment into the UK maritime sector. 

According to a statement released by the Department for Transport, ‘Successful ports will be able to use AI to detect safety hazards, optimise port activities and reduce their environmental footprint - making UK waters safer, operations smoother and air cleaner’. 

The £8m funding for the Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund is ultimately derived from the wider UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UKSHORE) programme; a £206 million funding programme that was announced in March 2022. 

Commenting on the Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund, Lord Davies said: 

“Using AI and cutting-edge technology to make boats smarter and transform port operations is part of our plan to decarbonise shipping, enhance safety for our seafarers and help grow the economy. 

AI has the potential to revolutionise the sector, create jobs and support the economy”.

Lord Davies’ comments were echoed by Peter Aylott, Director of Policy at the UK Chamber of Shipping, who said: 

“Artificial intelligence will deliver real change in shipping with an important role, alongside the sector’s workforce, in greater use of autonomous vessels, automation and data analysis. These technologies will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve supply chains and generate jobs. 

Today’s funding is an important step in driving UK cutting edge technology and moving projects from the drawing board to reality”.

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