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Science To Impact Area

Autonomy, technology and digitisation

Advances in marine technology can deliver economic benefits and improve the management, sustainability and governance of marine and coastal environments. Our scientists, modellers and technologists operate at the forefront of marine technology development.

With an increasing global population and a drive towards green growth the exploitation of marine resources in key areas such as food production and renewable energy are inevitable. Key to the sustainable exploitation of the marine environment is our ability to develop smarter monitoring, provide expert interpretation of data and deliver policy relevant science.

PML is advancing the capability of marine observing systems to provide cost-effective and timely measurements of key environmental variables that are crucial for understanding and responding to environmental change.

Critical to the ocean economy is the sustainability and productivity of the oceans which will require smarter monitoring, modelling and data-driven management. Through development and adoption of new technologies, automation and citizen science we are lowering the cost of environmental observation. This means we can record past and future change at an unprecedented scale and by making this information widely available we can improve global resilience to environmental change.

The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development details the requirement for scientists to work with industry to develop new technologies aligned with sustainable development priorities. These priorities will require novel technologies to deliver cost effective marine data capture that is critical to delivering a complete ocean observing system. As a frontrunner in developing new marine technologies PML exercises its responsibility towards global capacity building, improving data literacy and filling data gaps.

We have strong relationships with an extensive range of commercial partners, which are considered crucial for the advancement of technology development within PML. PML chairs the Future Autonomous at Sea technologies (FAST) cluster, which is the largest marine autonomy cluster in the UK and has membership spanning the south west. This triple-helix cluster is largely comprised of industry partners complimented by leading academic organisations and government departments. The cluster exists to deliver advanced marine autonomy across numerous sectors including, offshore renewable energy, science, aquaculture and defence. The FAST cluster is also actively engaged with regulators such as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to work develop suitable regulations for the operation of autonomous vessels.

The Western Channel Observatory (WCO) exemplifies PML’s combined strengths in advanced in situ smart monitoring; world leading remote sensing and ecosystem modelling. The WCO also forms the backbone of Smart Sound Plymouth, which is the UK’s platform for advanced technology development, led by PML.

Resources and Links

PML leads Smart Sound Plymouth
Smart Sound Plymouth is Britain's platform for innovative marine technology development and is led by Dr James Fishwick from PML. It is Britain’s premier proving area for designing, testing and developing cutting edge products and services for the marine sector, and is ideally suited for building and supporting the next generation of advanced marine technologies.


PML is a founding board member of Ocean Futures
Ocean Futures is a global centre of excellence for the testing, development and manufacture of autonomy, digital and clean ocean technologies for the rapidly growing global ocean economy, as a key pillar of the country’s ambition to be a science and innovation superpower, with activity focussed on:

  • Autonomy – leading the demonstration and integration of marine autonomous systems for applications in defence, offshore renewable energy, aquaculture and emerging ocean economy application, estimated to be a £103bn market by 2030.
  • Digital Oceans – transforming our understanding of the ocean environment and safeguarding future maritime operations with integrated digital marine communications.
  • Maritime Net Zero – leading the transition to safe and secure maritime operations that will embrace a variety of alternative energy sources bespoke to vessel type and operation.

People who work in this area of research

Dr Katie Awty-Carroll

Environmental Intelligence Data Scientist
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Professor Nicola Beaumont

Head of Science - Sea and Society
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Professor Tom Bell

Ocean/atmosphere biogeochemist
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Jerry Blackford

Head of Science: Marine Systems Modelling Group
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Ian Brown

Marine Chemist
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Ben Calton

Head of Geospatial Applications
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Dr Stefano Ciavatta

Merit Scientist in Marine Ecosystem Modelling
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Dr James Clark

Marine Ecosystem Modeller
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Dr Dan Clewley

Earth Observation Research Software Engineer
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Dr Matthew Cole

Senior Marine Ecologist and Ecotoxicologist
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Dr James Fishwick

Head of Smart Sound Plymouth and Head of Operations and Technology, Western Channel Observatory
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Professor Kevin Flynn

Marine Plankton Ecologist
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Professor Steve Groom

Head of Science - Earth Observation
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Dr Thomas Jackson

Remote Sensing and Ocean Optics Scientist
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Dr Vassilis Kitidis

Marine biogeochemist
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Dr Andrey Kurekin

Coastal Ocean Colour scientist
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Dr Angus Laurenson

Scientific Python Guru
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Dr Gennadi Lessin

Marine System Modeller
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Professor Pennie Lindeque

Head of Science: Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
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Dr Océane Marcone

Social Science Researcher
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Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente

Bio-optical oceanographer
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Aser Mata

Earth Observation Scientist
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Dr David Moffat

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Data Scientist
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Jani Pewter

Instrument and Data Technician

Dr Ana M Queirós

Marine and Climate Change Ecologist
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Dr Andy Rees

Marine biogeochemist
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Professor Stefan Simis

Earth Observation Scientist (inland/coastal waters)
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Dr Jozef Skakala

Ecosystem modeller
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Dr Tim Smyth

Head of Science - Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations
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Emma Sullivan

Earth Observation Scientist
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Dr Karen Tait

Microbial Ecologist
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Dr Liz Talbot

Marine Ecologist
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Dr Gavin H Tilstone

Bio-optical oceanographer
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Dr Ricardo Torres

Systems Modeller Data Assimilation
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Dr Tom Vance

Research and Development Manager
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Peter Walker

Remote Sensing scientist
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Dr Mark Warren

Remote sensing scientist
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Dr Ming-Xi Yang

Chemical Oceanographer
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