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The development of a new more efficient and safer portable traffic optimisation system for EU ports

Final Report Summary - OPTIPORT (The development of a new more efficient and safer portable traffic optimisation system for EU ports)

The OPTIPORT project was designed to increase the competitiveness of European industrial ports by increasing port throughput by 10 %. This was planned to be achieved by improving the accuracy of calculation of under keel clearance (UKC) from 50 cm to 10 cm, enabling more ships to pass through the ports during a tide. The project also aimed to increase the real time ship movement forecasting and position accuracy so that this would reduce accidents and groundings in narrow waters, which can improve safety and increase port throughput. It also aimed to introduce a new sensor that will provide very accurate real time ship movement forecasting in the case of GPS system blackout.

Although there were some delays due to partner changes in the beginning of the project, the project has progressed extremely well with the consortium working well together. A prototype system was fully built by month 24 and sea-trials have successfully completed by the end of the project. The world-beating technology has been achieved by meeting the following targets:
- a portable system combining GPS receivers and motion sensors to show a vessel's position, speed and bearing more accurately than current commercial offerings;
- software to display electronic charts, combined with automatic identification system data and predicted UKC and Squat;
- building a world-class filtering system that is linked to motion sensors. This technology enables OPTIPORT system to navigate safely and extremely accurately in GPS blackout situations.

In summary, the scientific objectives were:
- research on external influences on the movement of the ships;
- under keel clearance - discover how to predict the under keel clearance and squat dynamically;
- GPS accuracy - investigate methods for improving GPS accuracy and how to deal with GPS blackouts (by using motion sensor technology).

Two patentable ideas emerged during the project. These were:
- research into methods for combining GPS and motion sensors in a compact low powered portable unit have produced patentable results;
- research into RF shielding and improved antennae has produced patentable results that could be applicable to other electronic devices which contain receivers and transmitters, especially where these are operating on different frequencies. The results may also be applicable to other equipment that contains a wireless device in close proximity to computing, or other electronic components.

The project was structured into seven work packages (WPs), as follows:

WP 1: New scientific knowledge.LWP 1 was executed via individual tasks like: modelling of vessel movement prediction; modelling of under keel clearance; investigation of methods for minimising radio frequency interference and investigate methods for improving GPS accuracy. TI and Navdata concluded that a motion sensor system cannot replace the need for a real-time kinetic (RTK) system. If centimetre position accuracy is desired an RTK system must be used.

WP 2: Software development
WP 2 was executed via individual tasks like: produce software specification for ECDIS software including a description of the interfaces between the mathematical models output from WP1 and the ECDIS kernel; develop ECDIS software and test ECDIS software. During testing issues on the following areas were identified:
- data base connection pool - the problem was due to irregular inputs sent by the wing unit.
- mission type - an unknown error occurred when we tested the system according to pilot use (when choosing a new mission). This was due to connection problem between the database and the ECDIS system.
- several graphical user interface (GUI) based errors. These errors were identified during modular testing. All problems were due to Java Beans component definitions.All identified errors were fixed.

WP 3: Develop antennae and shielding to minimise RFI.
WP 3 was executed via individual tasks like: experiment with antennae and shielding designs to minimise RFI and production of prototype antennae and shielding. The antenna, antenna filter design and the diplexer module including the shielding, developed in WP 3 by the project partner Radiokomunikace Spol (RCD), were supplied and mounted on the CAT unit.

WP 4: Hardware evaluation
WP 4 was executed via individual tasks like: evaluate GPS modules; evaluate wireless local area network (WLAN) modules; evaluate motion sensors; evaluation of microprocessor modules and production of prototype casing. The case design work carried out in the WP 4, by the coordinator company Marimatech and the Spanish partner Terpesa in close cooperation. Both casings for the CAT and the carrying case (used for transporting the complete OPTIPORT system) were designed and prototyped. The designs were done by using the CAD tool Solid Works.

WP 5: Technology integration and validation
WP 5 was executed via individual tasks like: integration to produce prototype OPTIPORT system; bench testing of the prototype system; pre-production trials and end user evaluation. Port St Nazaire said that the results were simply astonishing. The end user mentioned that OPTIPORT system exceeded their expectations and they were very happy with the overall product. They commented on some potential improvements and Marimatech will work on those improvements when they start serial production.

WP 6: Innovation related activities
WP 6 was executed via individual tasks like: protection of IPR; absorption of results by proposer; dissemination of knowledge; socio-economic aspects; directly promote project results to over 20 European ports and pilot organisations; public website. All the internal reports with hardware evaluation and software codes are distributed to the consortium partners. TI & Pera have also developed a generic design guide to be distributed to industrial partners. The system specification outlines the European and international standards that the OPTIPORT product should comply with. All product modules are designed in compliance with EU and international regulations and standards. The website helps the project partners to share files easily and more effectively.

WP 7: Consortium management.
WP 7 was executed via individual tasks like: dissemination and use plan; co-ordination of technical activities at a consortium level; co-ordination of legal aspects; report on gender societal and ethical issues and consortium agreement. A dissemination and use plan has been created in the beginning of the project and updated frequently. A fully signed consortium agreement was maintained throughout the project.

The primary application for OPTIPORT is its use by pilots bringing vessels into industrial ports. This especially applies to ports where the approaches are narrow and shallow, as these present the greatest risks of collision and grounding. The equipment allows vessels to enter port during a greater portion of the tide than was previously possible. It achieves this, by accurately showing the vessel's position, speed and bearing on an electronic chart of the waters around the vessel. The equipment will also be useful in third world ports, which do not have sophisticated radar and vessel traffic services systems. Vessels equipped with OPTIPORT would be self-sufficient and they could safely enter these ports without the aid of local pilots. OPTIPORT will also be useful for ship trials, hydrographic surveys and other situations where very accurate measurements of position, speed and bearing are required. Dissemination of information was completed and has being very well received by the industry and public alike.

The project has progressed extremely well, which highlighted a number of developed novel technologies which were recognised to be a patentable function of the project results. This will open up new market opportunities, for the consortium, and provide tangible social benefits across Europe.