Navigational sensor and computer-based bridge technology is being tested to avoid ship and workboat collisions
A new navigational safety, sensor and computer-based bridge technology is being tested to reduce the risk of ship and workboat collisions in congested waters.
Ray Carriers is trialling an artificial intelligent (AI) navigation aid to provide additional information to ship masters about surrounding vessels and hazards.
Orca AI uses imaging technology and AI to help navigators to avoid collisions. It is designed for use in crowded waterways and in the lowest visibility to provide information to bridge teams. It supplements existing onboard sensors, such as AIS, radar and GPS, with thermal and low light cameras.
These are combined with an AI-powered navigation and vessel tracking system, which helps captains to detect ships and navigation hazards at both long and short distances. It delivers information on the future passage and track of other vessels to enable navigators to remedy their course and avoid a collision.
Orca AI will recommend course corrections and actions to avoid potentially dangerous situations. It is easy to retrofit ships with this technology, which is fully compatible with international shipping and safety regulations.
Orca AI co-founder and chief executive Yarden Gross says this technology “tackles the hardest part of navigation head-on with an easy-to-use tool that empowers crews with a more detailed picture of their surroundings in situations with little to no visibility.”
He explains that it is most effective in situations with minimal visibility such as in severe weather and low-light conditions. “Our technology is showing the benefits that can be enjoyed with an advanced system operated by the crew while building the framework for the future of maritime navigation,” says Mr Gross.
He thinks this AI technology will enable shipping to develop more advanced ship operations. “The progression towards autonomous ships needs to be gradual,” he explains. “First, by demonstrating value on the water with insight and recommendations and then taking control in specific voyage segments.”
Ray Carriers is using Orca AI on board several of its car carriers for pilot testing. These modules are harvesting data from daily operations to enable Orca to build smarter systems for the future.
The company, founded in 2018, is backed by US$2.6M of seed finance from MizMaa Ventures, Ray Carriers and The Dock.
MizMaa Ventures co-founder and general partner Catherine Leung expects Orca AI will reduce costs from shipowers and insurers, which have to pay out to remedy vessel accidents.
“The shipping industry spends billions of dollars a year covering the expenses of collisions,” she says. “Executives are looking for solutions that can get the problem under control.”
Ms Leung says Orca AI does not need extensive retrofitting or crew training. “This system was created to have an impact from the moment of installation and it is an affordable and highly effective solution for a problem the industry has not succeeded in solving,” she says.
Ray Carriers operates a fleet of eight pure car and truck carriers with capacity between 2,200 and 7,700 CEU.
Maritime incidents, including collisions, have jumped from around 2,000 in 2011 to about 4,000 in 2017. The majority of maritime collisions and groundings occur in congested waterways, often in areas near ports, shipping channels or in narrow waterways. These then often require the services of tugs for refloating ships and salvaging maritime casualties.
Human error is seen as the biggest factor in maritime accidents, causing more than 75% of collisions. Any technology that can help reduce the risk of collisions will be welcomed by all stakeholders in the shipping industry.
Technology needs to supplement existing navigation tools to deliver more useful information to bridge teams, especially if it can predict position and tracks of surrounding vessels and navigation hazards.
There is a future for AI-powered navigation if it is inexpensive, easy to retrofit and demonstrated to be effective in reducing collisions and groundings, and not an additional electronic distraction on the bridge.