Maersk Line to test AI “situational awareness” system

Containership operator Maersk Line is to test what an AI-powered situational awareness system aboard one of its containerships. In what was claimed to be a world-first Maersk Line has linked up with Boston, Massachusetts-based Sea Machines Robotics to trial AI-based perception and situational awareness technology aboard one of Maersk’s newbuild ice-class container ships.

The first ship in Maersk’s new ice-class containerships, 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. Sea Macbnies said that the deal was significant to Sea Machines, Maersk, and 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”.

The system is reportedly similar to the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) commonly found in automobiles, using sensors to collect a continuous stream of information from a vessel’s surroundings, to identify and track potential conflicts, displaying the information in the wheelhouse, facilitating safer and more efficient maritime operations.

  1. Michael A. Rodey, senior innovation manager at Maersk Line parent AP Moller-Maersk, said that “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. 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.