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Autonomous Passage Planning for a Polar Vessel

by   Jonathan D. Smith, et al.

We introduce a method for long-distance maritime route planning in polar regions, taking into account complex changing environmental conditions. The method allows the construction of optimised routes, describing the three main stages of the process: discrete modelling of the environmental conditions using a non-uniform mesh, the construction of mesh-optimal paths, and path smoothing. In order to account for different vehicle properties we construct a series of data driven functions that can be applied to the environmental mesh to determine the speed limitations and fuel requirements for a given vessel and mesh cell, representing these quantities graphically and geospatially. In describing our results, we demonstrate an example use case for route planning for the polar research ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough (SDA), accounting for ice-performance characteristics and validating the spatial-temporal route construction in the region of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. We demonstrate the versatility of this route construction method by demonstrating that routes change depending on the seasonal sea ice variability, differences in the route-planning objective functions used, and the presence of other environmental conditions such as currents. To demonstrate the generality of our approach, we present examples in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. The techniques outlined in this manuscript are generic and can therefore be applied to vessels with different characteristics. Our approach can have considerable utility beyond just a single vessel planning procedure, and we outline how this workflow is applicable to a wider community, e.g. commercial and passenger shipping.


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