Maersk Line will test what is claimed to be the
world’s first AI-powered situational awareness system aboard one of its
The world’s largest shipping company has partnered
with Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics to trial the tech company’s industry-leading
perception and situational awareness technology aboard one
of Maersk’s newbuild ice-class container ships.
“The deal is significant not only to Sea Machines
and Maersk, but also to the larger maritime industry as the installation
marks first time computer vision, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and
perception software will be utilized aboard a container vessel to augment
and upgrade transit operations,” Sea Machines said in a press release.
The company says their system uses artificial
intelligence (AI) to improve at-sea situational awareness, object
identification and tracking capabilities. Similar to
Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) commonly found in automobiles,
Sea Machines’ system uses advanced sensors to collect a continuous stream
of information from a vessel’s surroundings, identify and track potential
conflicts, and display information in the wheelhouse, facilitating safer and
more efficient maritime operations.
“We are extremely proud that the world’s largest
shipping company selected Sea Machines as their advanced perception and
autonomous technology provider,” explained Michael Johnson, founder and CEO,
Sea Machines. “This partnership with Maersk marks our first foray into the
shipping sector and allows us to positively contribute towards the operator’s
“Our team first met Sea Machines around three years
ago when they were developing the concepts of their first autonomous systems,
and already we were impressed with their technical capability, planned product
path, and practical understanding of the future needs of the marine market,”
said P. Michael A. Rodey, senior innovation manager, A.P.
Moller-Maersk. “For this container ship situational awareness program, we aim
to prove the technology increases our safety, efficiency and reliability.
Autonomous vessels are not an end goal for Maersk nor is unmanned
vessels; what is more of interest is the technology along the journey and
the value it brings.”
Sea Machines Robotics was founded in 2015 and
builds autonomous vessel software and systems with the goal of enhancing
the safety, efficiency and performance of ships, workboats and commercial
vessels. The company recently introduced the world’s first
industrial-grade control system providing autonomous and remote vessel
control for workboats and other vessels. It is also actively developing
advanced perception technology and navigation assistance technology for a range
of vessel types.
The first ship in Maersk’s new ice-class
containerships, named Vistula Maersk, made its maiden call recently in St.
Petersburg, Russia after sailing from Rotterdam. The vessel is first of seven
purpose-built newbuilds to serve the North Sea and Baltic Sea for
Seago Line, the intra-Europe and short-sea carrier of Maersk. The vessels
are touted as the world’s largest ice-class containerships.