South Hampshire College Group drives UK maritime workforce upskilling with new Digital Training Vessel powered by Robosys


South Hampshire College Group has ordered a new Digital Training Vessel powered by Robosys’ AI-enhancement technology

The UK’s pioneering, technically focused South Hampshire College Group has announced its acquisition of a Digital Training Vessel powered by Robosys Voyager AI. This will support the demand for new maritime skills across the Solent region, and pan-UK, enabled through capital equipment investment through the Department for Education’s Local Skills Improvement Fund.

South Hampshire College Group’s new Digital Training Vessel (DTV) will be used through remote control operations either in-line-of-sight from ashore using a local wireless controller or from a classroom-based ROC.

As this type of craft is the first choice for surveying, patrolling, monitoring, and more recently, search and rescue operations, training on the Group’s new DTV will enable students to learn on a real-life, compact uncrewed surface vessel (USV) to support marine engineering, marine electronics, software and digital skills. In turn when leaving college they will be better equipped to enter a broad spectrum of fast growing maritime sectors, including offshore wind farm support, hydrography, aquaculture, defence, and marine sciences.

Utilisation of the DTV purchase will enable pivotal curriculum developments across a range of technical college qualifications, from Robotics and Automation, T Level Digital Software Programming and Development, Marine Electronics, Marine Electrical, Systems Engineering and Clean Energy.

The DTV will be powered by VOYAGER AI, the world-leading maritime artificial intelligence (AI) software both designed and supplied by Robosys Automation.   VOYAGER AI delivers decision-aided autonomous navigation for the USVs and for the onboard vessel control system at various levels of autonomy, including degree 4 autonomy. This will provide students with decision aided autonomous operations and collision avoidance AI reasoning, being crucial when operating in a challenging environments such as busy shipping lanes and difficult sea states.

The new SHCG Digital Training Vessel is currently in production in the UK at HydroSurv and is based on their 2.8m Rapid Environmental Assessment Vessel (REAV) USV aluminium catamaran design, which is well-suited to a variety of training operations. The REAV-28 has a Torqeedo electric outboard propulsion system, providing clean energy, supporting NetZero ambitions.

South Hampshire College Group (SHCG) is a large and newly merged college group that brings together three Further Education colleges from Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham to make one strong, responsive and ambitious organisation. The mission is to enable all their students, apprentices and region’s businesses to be successful in their future through high-quality technical and professional education and training.

Whilst it can be operated remotely from any site operating Robosys’ fully mobile Ground Control System, the unmanned vessel can be easily relocated for immediate deployment in shallow lakes, swimming pools, or Solent’s waters, being highly suited to training operations.

Funding for the DTV has been enabled through the Department for Education’s Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) and forms part of wider ambitions to increase capacity in the maritime, Freeport and logistics sectors through the development of industry-lead curriculum, access to state-of-the-art equipment and exposure to the varied and fulfilling careers available in maritime. As part the investment, the LSIF enables expansion and development of the college’s state-of-the-art facilities and improved access to the technical skills required in the industry, addressing key sector skills shortages regionally.

Naomi Smith, LSIF Programme Director for the South Hampshire College Group, comments, “We are delighted to be working with Robosys Automation on this truly innovative and first-of-its-kind partnership for the region. The purchase of the digital Training Vessel marks a significant milestone in our commitment to securing the future skills pipelines for the maritime industry, creating better futures for the region.

As technology continues to advance, particularly in autonomy and AI, South Hampshire College Group’s students will be empowered with the cutting-edge knowledge and practical experience required to excel in this swiftly evolving world. Using Robosys’ systems and AI software will enable students to seamlessly convert their learning to the workplace.”

Nigel Lee, CSO of Robosys comments, “Next generation maritime is at the core of industry, so it is superb to see that we are able to work with and support innovative training providers such as the South Hampshire College Group are helping to address the maritime sector skills shortages for today and the future workplace.”

Naomi continues, “The partnership reflects the Group’s vision to help lead the UK in cutting-edge learning together with decarbonisation ambitions, combined with the pledge to work with global industry innovators such as Robosys Automation, and the National Oceanography Centre, with whom we have been able to develop meaningful partnerships.”

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Since 2002, Robosys Automation has been regarded as the world leader in maritime autonomy and smart shipping applications, delivering pioneering and intelligent navigation solutions to crewed, lean-crewed and autonomous vessels, USVs and ships, from 3m to 320m.

Headquartered at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre with offices in India, USA and Canada, Robosys’ solutions are proven and boast full IMO Degree 4 Maritime Autonomy capability.

Robosys has two decades of experience in developing and supporting AI maritime autonomy and smart shipping solutions with its platform, propulsion, and sensor-agnostic software; for both operational purposes, and for training simulation in synthetic environments.

Robosys’ solutions include its ground-breaking VOYAGER AI software which transforms any motorised vessel into a fully autonomous Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV); which features independent navigation, collision and obstacle avoidance, anti-grounding and dynamic route optimisation.

In addition, Robosys offers numerous options to complement VOYAGER AI, including COLREGS-compliant Collision Avoidance Decision Aid (CADA) applications, to enhance the safety in the support of crewed and lean crewed watchkeepers. Other options include Voyager Platform Control providing Remote Steering, Engine Control and Propulsion Control, together with Voyager Platform Management, providing Alarm Monitoring, together with Switch & Relay Controlling.

Applications are used in vessels undertaking surveying, pilotage, defence, bulk, short sea, search and rescue, and research operations.

Robosys’ international partners include the Australian Maritime College (AMC Search), Maritime Research Institute of Netherlands (MARIN) and the Marine Robotics Innovation Centre (MRIC) at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Find out more about Robosys Automation at


South Hampshire College Group (SHCG) is a large and newly merged college group, that brings together three Further Education colleges from Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham to make one strong, responsive and ambitious organisation.

The mission is to enable its students, apprentices, and the region’s businesses to be successful in their future through high-quality technical and professional education and training.

The collaboration of the three colleges has enhanced and strengthen the range of provision and delivery of high-quality courses that serve the education and training needs the region. Students, apprentices, and employers locally and further afield benefit from the vision, drive, resources and expertise to support the ever-evolving, complex skills of the generation for both now and the future.


The Department for Education’s Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF). The LSIF enables the expansion and development of facilities, technical skills and teaching environments to better support the needs of the local labour market and wider economy.

The local skills improvement fund (LSIF) is designed to enable further education providers across a geographic area to respond collectively to the priorities in the local skills improvement plans (LSIPs).

The LSIF supports the reforms introduced in the skills for jobs white paper, providing investment in the technical skills system to better support the needs of the local labour market and wider economy.


HydroSurv’s Uncrewed Surface Vessel, REAV-28 is an inland and nearshore multi-purpose USV, primarily used in hydrographic, geophysical and environmental surveying. The battery-electric propulsion system can provide day-works endurance, whilst the readily portable small platform enables easy launch and recovery in remote worksites.

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Following Robosys Automation’s simulated and worldwide live testing spanning from Canada though the USA, UK, Europe, ME, India to Australia, from its UK headquarters at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, combined with customer data, Voyager AI boasts improved collision avoidance, and enhanced unique twinning to vessel operational characteristics and mission profile.

New and improved collision avoidance algorithms have been devised through extensive utilisation of simulation software combined with real-time challenges. Multi-vessel avoidance manoeuvre scenarios have also been tested and further enhanced, with Voyager AI featuring improved Explainable collision regulations’ (COLREGs) compliance.

In addition, the Loss of Communications (LoC) function is now a licensable feature of Voyager AI, providing peace of mind to operators by enabling mission continuity in the event of a breakdown in communications.

Furthermore, improved vessel track and dynamic navigational path changes are made in accordance with a vessels’ specific manoeuvrability and its other performance characteristics, which results in a manoeuvring path matched to that vessel’s characteristics.

Navigational paths are now set and validated according to user-selected chart parameters, Voyager AI can now be swiftly tuned according to the specific vessel operating area, such as ocean, coastal, or inshore waters.

An exciting addition to Voyager AI has been the addition of an integrated Remote & Autonomous Platform Alarm, Monitoring & Control System (AMCS) tailored by Robosys to provide full support for USVs.

Voyager AI now also integrates and controls multiple ship’s hardware, including vessel systems, switches, relays and monitoring systems and alarms. This can range from deck and hull sensors, through to creating an auto-response to initiate an automatic fire extinguisher thanks to tailored pre-set values.

Key to platform integration is the alignment of payload control with vessel control systems and thus Voyager’s AMCS now integrates payload control and the vessel’s performance for seamless USV maritime operations which is specifically aligned to best suit the mission.
















Main image caption: South Hampshire College Group has ordered a new Digital Training Vessel which is being powered by Robosys’ AI-enhancement technology  

Image credits: ©HydroSurv


For further information and to arrange an interview please contact Hannah Kent Colls, Director, at Watermark, email or phone +44 (0)7876 541 876.

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