NYK upgrades fleet with Orca AI technology to enhance navigation safety and operational efficiency

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Orca AI, developer of a unique automated situational awareness platform, has partnered with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) Group, a leading Japanese shipping and logistics company, to enhance its fleet’s safety.

Today, following more than two years of collaboration, the NYK Group confirmed it will install the Orca AI platform across the NYK fleet, which includes bulk carriers, tankers and containerships. This deal further strengthens the relationship between NYK Group and Orca AI.

As one of the world’s leading shipping and transport companies, finding a safety system that could enable and empower NYK’s crews to make better real-time decisions while navigating congested oceans was the aim, according to Captain Jun Nakamura, manager of the autonomous ship team at NYK Group. The company also wanted to develop its understanding of navigational challenges facing the fleet and how they were being managed.

“Orca AI demonstrated that the safety of shipping operations can be improved by automating the task of target detection in low visibility in congested waters,” Capt. Nakamura said. “The platform serves as an automated lookout and recognizes dangerous targets and other vessels that may be overlooked by the human eye, reducing the probability of incidents at sea.”

Mr Yarden Gross, CEO and Co-founder of Orca AI, added: “We are excited to partner with tech leaders such as NYK, deepening our collaboration with the company and supporting its ongoing aim to be a central player in the shipping industry’s digital revolution.”

The partnership began in August 2020 when NYK and MTI Co., Ltd, installed a trial version of Orca AI’s platform on a ship operated by the NYK Group. Since then, the NYK Group and Orca have also completed a successful autonomous voyage trial in congested waters near Japan’s east coast through the Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ships (DFFAS) consortium, which includes 30 Japanese firms.

The NYK trial – known as the MEGURI2040 Project and supported by the Nippon Foundation – was carried out on Suzaku, a 749 gross tonne autonomous containership fitted with Orca’s artificial intelligence and deep-learning technology. Traveling from Tokyo Bay to the port of Tsumatsusaka in the Ise Bay, the vessel achieved 40 hours of navigation with complete autonomy for about 98% of the voyage.

The vessel automatically carried out 107 collision avoidance maneuvers and avoided up to 500 ships using Orca’s safety navigation system. The platform provided real-time detection, tracking, and range estimation through 18 cameras with panoramic views operating 24/7 in any conditions.

Orca AI’s technology has already captured more than 10 million nautical miles of visual data and its team continues to innovate and develop the platform, including incorporating regulatory compliance such as CII into its interface.

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