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3 ways the Maritime Industry can use AI

What is AI? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the buzzword when speaking of any industry transformation today. The advent of the digital age ushers in an era where computers create algorithms that can analyse big swaths of data better than humans.

The maritime industry has increasingly focused on AI.
(Image Credit: Seatrade-Maritime)

In the way a dog learns tricks through trial and error, AI gathers external data and takes actions to maximise its chances of achieving a goal. Building upon this trial and error method of learning, AI improves itself through the addition of strategies that have worked in earlier stages or by writing algorithms. This self-improving feature is incredibly useful in the maritime industry given the large amounts of data that hundreds of thousands of vessels pump out. The data in the maritime industry is incredibly noisy, and there is a pressing need to find a way to efficiently collate the precise but variable and complex data. AI can help with that. 

AI is used in a neural network that consists of units that mimic our own brain neurons when recognising relationships between information. A computer can much more effectively recognise simple associations between information as more training samples are fed to the system. Thus, the computer is able to analyse patterns and understand correlations in huge amounts of information.

Here are three possible uses of AI in the maritime industry:

1. Predictive Maintenance

AI identifies anomalies in data received from equipment on-board vessels, enabling foresight into potential issues, prompting interventions before a breakdown happens. This optimises the equipment’s performance, reduces downtime of the vessel’s operations, and prevents high costs for recovery from breakdowns.

2. Navigation Optimisation

AI optimises the navigational sense of a vessel. Machine learning algorithms help optimise routes to minimise fuel consumption, using the vessel’s information. Furthermore, AI automatically detects hazardous objects or small vessels in the path of the ship – even during times of low visibility. 

3. Risk Assessment in Hard to Reach Areas

AI can be used in drones to do surveys of locations that are difficult to access on board ships. Moreover, AI can be trained to recognise rusting or specific features that engineers may miss when surveying areas of problems. This eliminates the risk to human lives, and reduces the cost of assessment. 

AI aids the navigational sense of the vessel, or even acts as the main navigational source. (Image Credit: Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine)

The future is now

AI, machine learning and neural networks are effective tools that the maritime industry should strive to understand. There are many other uses of AI in the maritime industry that await identification and application by engineers and equipment makers to optimise the day-to-day operations onboard a vessel.

AI isn’t a ‘what if’ but a ‘when’. And that ‘when’ is now.