Digital twins for marine operations: from surface to deep water

Mien Van, Christopher Edwards, Long Tran-Thanh, Matthew Bonney

Research output: Other contribution

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Despite being potentially beneficial for many marine applications, the deployment of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), ships, vessels, offshore assets in a marine environment poses many challenges from a safety and reliability standpoint. First, the environmental disturbances can degrade the performance of RAS. Second, RAS are vulnerable to cyber-attacks which can potentially lead to dangerous scenarios by affecting the information transmitted among connected vehicles/devices. In addition, the current state-of-the-art technology of RAS does not allow humans to have access to the real-time life cycle of RAS remotely. Digital twins are a virtual and identical representation or model, with full characterisation, of a physical product or system. Digital twins are improving operations of many businesses. The worldwide market for digital twin platforms is forecast to reach $86 billion by 2028. Commercially, digital twins have been used in various applications, ranging from facility maintenance to engine modelling to assess system reliability and the response to certain events. Digital twins can also be used to better understand human behaviour in various contexts, such as the impact of high cognitive load, stress, and group dynamics on decision-making, and how individuals, crowds and populations respond to threats and crises. However, there is no formal and consistent definition of a digital twin for marine operations. This is because, when deployed in a marine environment, the existing digital twin models face many unique challenges caused by limited communication bandwidth in an underwater environment, cybersecurity, data quality and trust, model uncertainty and environmental disturbances. In this white paper, we will explore the challenges and opportunities of digital twins for marine operations and the key enabling technologies (KETs) required to resolve the issues of implementation with digital twins. A brief overview of digital twin research across the UK and use cases of digital twins for marine operations will be highlighted along with key enabling technologies and recommendations for the future development of digital twins for marine operations.
Original languageEnglish
TypeUKRAS White Paper
Media of outputOnline
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023

Publication series

NameUKRAS White Papers
PublisherUKRAS Network
ISSN (Print)2398-4414


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