How AI Can Help With Ship Navigation

Artificial intelligence technology has a history of making processes easier for human workers in industry, by assisting with or completing complex tasks with well defined parameters. In particular for ship navigation, this means boosting route planning, voyage safety and making the whole operation more intelligent. Usually this does not mean wholly eliminating the human element from the equation.

Benefits also include minimising the administrative responsibility for shipping teams. As artificial intelligence is highly adaptive by nature, it can be used to fulfil many different menial tasks that otherwise would have taken up a lot of precious time for human workers. This means that they can concentrate on providing safe navigation for passengers or cargo.

Recently, new machine learning technology has been in development specifically for ship navigation systems. One such AI has been implemented by Wärtsilä subsidiary Transas into its new scheme named the “Navi-Planner voyage planning and optimisation solution”.

A new Wärtsilä ship model. Source: Wärtsilä

A new Wärtsilä ship model. Source: Wärtsilä

This artificial intelligence system is tasked with auto-creating safer navigation pathways operating on the most up to date ENCs (Electronic Navigational Charts) and any recent danger notices. The courses are subsequently perfected by referring to possible shipping hazards and local weather forecasts. It is also claimed to be capable of its own hazard identification, which is carried out by a separate machine learning algorithm.

Navi-Planner also provides advantages to senior fleet managers, because managers on land can observe their ships in real time and use this information to give advice to their ship captains. The AI can additionally generate its own advice for after the trip has taken place, using cloud-based records for near-misses and other incidents.

[The Navi-Planner] improves safety and provides fleet operators and crew with higher-level situational awareness.
— Torsten Buessow, Business Unit Managing Director

This, and other uses of artificial intelligence in shipping, will lead to smarter route optimisation for any kind of vessel, causing a reduction in fuel usage and therefore pollution. Overall, it will certainly have a positive influence efficiency in the industry, helping both workers and consumers.