Transformation across the maritime industry

Advances across the maritime industry are driving autonomy, connectivity and smarter use of our oceans.

The innovation happening today is underpinning the maritime decisions of tomorrow. Onshore, users will be able to make more effective decisions using dynamic, real-time data; along the coast, smart ports will allow for more efficient, optimised operations; and at sea, mariners will have access to even richer data so they can navigate with precision and confidence. 

To empower users for the future, we're continuing to collaborate to develop the next generation of maritime solutions. With data science, cutting-edge technology and new data standards, we're unlocking the power of maritime information so that the users of tomorrow can work more effectively and sustainably in the ocean space.

Data standards of the future

The next generation of data standards, S-100, will be transformative for the international hydrographic community.

S-100 will provide a shared format for new maritime data products, enabling us to bring together a greater breath of data into a single view – from high-resolution bathymetry to richer tidal information. When combined, this provides a more comprehensive picture of the marine environment and even greater insight for users.

Our experts at the UKHO are working closely with partners across the industry to develop, test and implement emerging standards to help shape the navigational solutions of tomorrow.

Autonomous navigation

Autonomous vessels have the potential to unlock significant environmental, economic and safety benefits across the maritime industry. Autonomous shipping technologies could not only enhance safety by minimising risk of human error, but could also optimise efficiency and fuel consumption by analysing vast quantities of data.

Autonomous technologies are advancing at a rapid rate; to support this growth, we are contributing to testing and research projects to help lay the foundations for their use in both commercial and defence environments.

By supporting this work, along with the development of S-100 data standards, we are looking ahead to the next generation of navigation solutions for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) and vessels with varying degrees of automation.

Digital twin

Digital twins will play a key role in supporting maritime innovation by bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and decision making.

By providing a virtual model of a physical environment, such as a port, a digital twin uses live data feeds to accurately replicate conditions in near real time. This can provide shipping companies, port operators and other users with virtual environments to test new ideas without the need for disruptive and costly physical tests.

By bringing together a range of marine data sets such as bathymetry, tidal heights and seabed composition data, our teams have been building and testing immersive digital twins of the ocean. These models will help further users’ understanding of the marine environment and help pave the way for future innovation.


Innovation is key to decarbonising the shipping industry – from the use of alternative, cleaner fuels to more energy-efficient ship designs.

As the industry looks at new solutions to reduce shipping’s impact on the environment, data will play an important role. With timely, reliable information about the marine environment, users can find more innovative solutions to help improve efficiencies and reduce fuel consumption.

The UKHO has been supporting a number of initiatives to help achieve the industry’s decarbonisation goals. This includes working with partners to explore voyage optimisation solutions, ‘Just in Time’ arrivals and green shipping corridors.