The UK National Centre for Coastal Autonomy (NCCA) – A centre of excellence for coastal marine autonomy


The recently launched NCCA aims to deliver world-leading capability in the pursuit of coastal oceanography using marine autonomy and digital technologies. It will combine state-of-the-art vehicles and platforms, sophisticated scientific buoys, a unique high-speed marine communications network and AI capability to deliver the next generation coastal ocean observing system.  The NCCA partnership will deliver high resolution and trustworthy data to enable policy relevant science that enables good stewardship of our coastal ocean environment. It also provides a testbed for emerging technologies and applications, and a platform for training and development of future generations of specialist scientists and technologists, thus enabling a much-needed focal point for coastal oceanography in the age of digital and autonomous technologies. Various components of the NCCA will be presented including efforts towards fully autonomous, adaptive sampling of coastal waters; autonomous plankton image classification; and the potential for high-speed connectivity in autonomous marine observing systems. 



I am the Marine Autonomy and Digital Science lead at the Plymouth Marine Labs (PML) in the UK.

I'm an early adopter and leader in using new technologies for marine science and work with a range of autonomous systems and platforms. I've pioneered and enabled methods to extend capabilities to address complex marine science problems including automating ocean mixing measurements and providing sustained autonomous nutrient analysis on AUVs and gliders.

PML offers a range of skills and expertise in marine autonomy, with particular interests in coastal seas. We have recently launched the UK National Centre for Coastal Autonomy (NCCA) as a regional partnership, which builds on the success of the award-winning Smart Sound Plymouth initiative and over 30 years of coastal observing at the Western Channel Observatory. Led by PML, this new Centre is working with industry towards accelerating the testing and application of emerging technology and automation in support of coastal marine observing and research.