The Port of Dover and the Universities of Plymouth and Manchester have received a £333,585 ($420,630) grant by Innovate UK to create and embed an AI-augmented Digital Twin of Dover harbour.
The funding underpins a three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), that will harness the universities’ expertise in hydrodynamic modelling and research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
The knowledge derived from these sources will be leveraged to create a transformative virtual model of the Port of Dover. According to the port, this will greatly benefit the productivity of the UK by making the process of transporting £144 billion ($181 billion) worth of goods smoother and more efficient each year.
The enhanced Digital Twin will provide a dynamic 24-hour, 365-day all-weather simulation of the complex tidal flows across the harbour and predict with maximum confidence the conditions essential for safe navigation in the Port of Dover.
As a result, the port will be able to remain operational during harsher weather conditions and welcome larger vessels and an even greater range of cruise and cargo ships, enabling greater operational efficiency and an increased volume of UK imports and exports.
The newly announced funding award for the KTP between the port and these two universities forms part of a wider programme of digitalisation by the Port of Dover, including work on a similar land-side digital twin, using a digital transformation to support energy efficiency and decarbonisation, as well as using AI to optimise traffic flows and port operations.
Doug Bannister, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, said: “We are delighted to learn of the award of this KTP and are thoroughly looking forward to working with the Universities of Manchester and Plymouth on this hugely exciting project, which will play a vital role in our journey to become the UK’s most seamless, sustainable, and tech-enabled port.
“The enhanced navigational analysis brought by the Digital Twin of Dover Harbour – Britain’s busiest Port – will extend our capability and operational hours and subsequently deliver a huge bonus of growth and productivity to the national economy.”
Yu-wang Chen, Professor of Decision Sciences and Business Analytics at the University of Manchester said: “This KTP is a great opportunity for the Universities of Plymouth and Manchester to form a strong partnership with the Port of Dover, integrate our knowledge across disciplinary boundaries to tackle real business challenges, and apply AI and emerging technologies to facilitate the digital transformation of the port.”