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SOLACE is a two-year, high-impact project that aims to showcase Solent University's extensive expertise and facilities by designing and building the first autonomous surface vessel that will ultimately circumnavigate the world.

Project goals

  • To enhance the reputation of Solent University, and that of the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering.
  • To develop the research and innovation potential of current academic staff across Schools.
  • To enhance the student experience at Solent and encourage their participation.
  • To attract students to the University in the areas of science, technology, engineering and management; women in science and engineering; and careers at sea. 

Project phases

The project will be divided into three phases running from May 2017 to June 2019.

The project team will grow and develop through the difference phases of the project, depending on the skills required.

The first phase of SOLACE will focus on the concept of design and the build of the autonomous vessel prototype. Student and staff involvement will be encouraged during this phase. The SOLACE team will be built from across the various Schools of the University, drawing on different skillsets. Phase one will culminate in sea trials of the autonomous vessel, which will take place around the Isle of Wight in June 2018.

The second phase of the project will overlap with the first and will begin with a thorough assessment of the sea trials to see where improvements can be made. During this phase the team will develop external partners who have a research interest in the work, to help fund the next stages of the project.

Phase three will see the upscaling of the vessel and the first attempt of the circumnavigation of the Earth.

Related reading

Hutchinson, A.F, 2017. Autonomy on the High Seas. Boss, September 2017, 55-58.

Rylander, R. and Man, Y.2016. Autonomous safety on vessels: an international overview and trends within the transport sector

SAILDRONE INC, 2017. Saildrone - Ocean data redefined.

STCW, 2017. Maritime law in the wake of the unmanned vessel.

Project dissemination


Date Author / participants Host / eventDissemination type Title 
13/09/2017  Chris Patterson, Kate Pike, Jonathan Ridley, Sarah-Jayne Wareham, Ashley Stout  Solent University - Solent Exchange Presentation  SOLACE internal project launch 

Social media

Date Author / participants Host / publication Dissemination type Title 
21/09/2017  Kate Pike Solent Research @SolentResearch Tweet Having a great time #here_be_dragons scoping our Solace project autonomous vessel #research #innovation


Date Author / participants Host / publication Dissemination type Title 
28/09/2017  Kate Pike, Gabriel Dzangare Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering - monthly updates Internal newsletter The SOLACE project - Solent Autonomous Circumnavigation of the Earth


Date Author / participants Host / publication Dissemination type Title 
10/10/2017  Kate Pike, Chris Patterson Solent University - Solent Exchange Video  
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