The Japanese conglomerate will also install the Orca AI platform on its vessels, providing use-case insights that the Israeli company can leverage to further enhance the technology.
Commenting on the deal with Orca AI, Yasutomo Miyake, General Manager in the Ship Project Dept. of Marubeni, said: “In line with our commitment to ‘creating value through innovative solutions for our customers and for the world’, we trust that the partnership with Orca AI contributes to the achievement of the SDGs for the entire shipping industry. We appreciate the enthusiasm of the Orca AI team and look forward to productive cooperation on this next-generation platform that promises to significantly enhance navigational decision-making.”
Yarden Gross, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Orca AI commented: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Marubeni as an innovation-driven conglomerate whose operations span the entire shipping value chain. Our system benefits stakeholders such as Marubeni by automating watchkeeping, helping to reduce seafarers’ workload while lowering the risk of collisions at sea.
As well as supporting existing operations, AI and computer vision technologies are also expected to become an enabler of autonomous fleet operations in the coming years.
Orca AI’s SeaPod lookout unit acts as a fully automatic digital watchkeeper, powered by high-sensitivity computer vision and deep-learning algorithms that detect, track, and classify nearby targets that could potentially pose a risk to the vessel. It helps to enhance situational awareness for bridge crews during challenging navigational scenarios such as congested waterways and low-visibility conditions.
Orca AI’s technology, which is operational 24/7, prioritizes risks at sea and presents them via a user-friendly interface onboard. The platform provides real-time monitoring capabilities to the fleet operations teams and actionable insights to improve safety, operations efficiency, and performance.
To date, Orca AI has accumulated more than 20 million nautical miles worth of marine visual data from its customers, including NYK, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), and Maran Group.
Gross adds that Orca AI’s automated watchkeeping capabilities can be particularly helpful for Japanese ship owners and operators in view of the ongoing shortage of skilled seafarers amid a fast-ageing population and the reluctance of younger generations to pursue demanding careers at sea.
This is not the first time that Orca AI has worked together with a Japanese partner. In 2022, Orca AI and NYK Group completed a successful autonomous voyage trial in congested waters off Japan’s east coast through the Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ships (DFFAS) consortium, which includes 30 Japanese firms.