We have maintained our knowledge and expertise of the waterways after the sale of our company NoorderSoft and our program PC–Navigo. Just in case there would appear to be a need for it again (for the new owners and/or for others). That knowledge sometimes provided nice insights into the possibilities of modern computing.
For example, in the context of some studies on “Open Source“ artificial intelligence and autonomous navigating, a new method for geodata display emerged, which we used in a pilot in the waterways in the UK and in Ireland, to see if it would provide useful information. We also developed, as we went along, new methods to collect, track and make applicable the necessary data.
All relevant waterway features (including those of bridges, locks, tunnels, aqueducts, etc.) have been digitized, made uniform and entered into a very detailed database, which has a geographical accuracy of one meter; accurate enough to be used in future self–steering vessels.
All data comes from public sources such as Google Maps, Google Earth, Wikipedia Commons, etc. and all data is public data (as made available by the CRT, Waterways Ireland and Scottish Canals). Unfortunately, not ALL data were made available: for unclear reasons, the relevant administrators sometimes withhold data.
In the second quarter of 2023, a web service will become active in which waterway users in the UK can become test users of the new fairway data. The feedback from that test use will in turn lead to improved software.