Innovations in maritime navigation software

Electronic navigation (e-navigation) solutions provider NAVTOR pioneered Pay As You Sail (COUNTRY) in 2011, shortly before the mandate of the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) of the International Maritime Organization is launching the transition of the maritime industry to digital navigation. Widely used today, the solution helped fill the gaps in travel planning by making all cards free. NAVTOR’s vessel tracking technology monitors the course of the vessel and only charges for cells the vessel enters during its voyage.

“The problems on board with ordering charts and managing licenses suddenly disappeared,” says Bjørn Åge Hjøllo, co-founder and director of business development for NAVTOR for electronic navigation.

In the decade since its launch, NAVTOR has continued to refine its software to improve efficiency. It released NavStation 6.0, the latest version of its passage planning software earlier this year. It brings all digital navigation data together in one place, helping crews plan and organize safe and economical trips. With its software, NAVTOR estimates that the time spent planning a trip is reduced by 85% to just 30 minutes.

The ECDIS mandate requiring all vessels to have an ECDIS system on deck entered into force in 2018, making electronic charts standard. However, nautical publications, maps and trip planning remain among the top five shortcomings in the industry, which, Hjøllo explains, is often linked to the failure to update the maps.

While many of its competitors use USB sticks or CDs, delivered on board to update maps before a trip, NAVTOR has introduced the NavBox, a software and hardware solution that automates the distribution and updating of digital maps. and navigation data. New data is transmitted from existing SATCOM systems to NavBox, allowing vessels to remain fully compliant and up to date with minimal administrative work required.

“It’s efficient, it’s time-saving, it’s reliable and you dramatically increase cybersecurity when you remove the USB stick,” says Hjøllo.

Improved efficiency leads to reduced fuel consumption; This not only means lower costs for vessel operators, but also reduced emissions. With the IMO having adopted mandatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping – the industry is expected to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030 – this is another huge benefit for companies. operators.

Thanks to the recently launched NavFleet solution by NAVTOR, vessel data is sent back to shore, where shore teams can provide mariners with real-time operational information to optimize performance, improve efficiency and subsequently reduce emissions. . According to Hjøllo, the implementation of Navtor technology can reduce a ship’s emissions by 10 to 15%.

“We can follow the ship and see almost in real time if there is too much fuel being used on that ship at any given time in that particular weather,” says Hjøllo. “From now on, we also follow in this NavFleet application that the vessel is following its route. We can see if they are actually inside or outside of the planned route, which will also help with safety and less environmental spills. ”

In addition to offering benefits in terms of time and economy, technology also contributes to the issue of compliance. With an increasing number of environmental regulations being implemented around the world, software such as OneOcean’s EnviroManager, for example, can reduce regulatory complexity for vessel operators. Comprising data from over 500 environmental zones and 170 countries, Enviromanager’s database ensures that crews are aware of the rules and regulations they will be faced with during a voyage, reducing the time required to complete this journey. operation manually and eliminating the risk of human error.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, around 80% of international trade goods are transported by sea, with the total volume estimated to have reached a record high of 11 billion tonnes before the pandemic. The waterways are more congested than ever.

“With that comes challenges – there are now more and bigger ships on the water causing traffic jams, and crew resources are scattered, resulting in a lack of team and experience,” Yarden Gross , co-founder and CEO of the marine collision avoidance technology company. Orca AI explains. “As a result, we have seen the number of accidents double in recent years – both minor and major.”

With the European Union’s European Maritime Safety Agency reporting around 4,000 incidents per year, Orca AI promises to improve navigation safety through computer vision. Using data captured by on-board navigation sensors and high-resolution cameras equipped with its proprietary AI algorithms, Orca AI’s awareness system continuously monitors a ship’s environment to predict hazards, alert crews and reduce collisions.

Each passing vessel is analyzed to determine the potential for collision. Smart alarms go off automatically when the system detects that there is a significant potential for the vessel to strike an obstacle or run aground in shallow water. Orca AI uses thermal cameras and can detect hazards in all conditions, including at night, in fog, during sandstorms and more.

“The technology allows even less experienced agents to deal with the most complex situations, including those with low visibility,” says Gross.

Other companies are also developing solutions to improve navigation safety. Last year, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) deployed its new Hyundai Intelligent Navigation Assistant System (HiNAS) on a bulk carrier owned by South Korean shipping company SK Shipping Co. using AI and infrared cameras to detect and measuring the speed of obstacles, the system provides valuable information to officers through augmented reality technology.

Likewise, autonomous ship software provider Sea Machines is currently testing a situational awareness system for container ships that will provide similar benefits in object identification and situational awareness.

“Without the use of technology, the navigation officer is required to systematically create a picture of the environment and calculate the risk, a process which can lead to many errors regardless of the experience of the crew.” , explains Gross. “By acting as a ‘co-captain’, AI processes and delivers information, removing the traditional analytical process. ”

However, these AI systems could soon be promoted to the helm. In 2018, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency established the Maritime Autonomy Regulation Lab (MARLab) to provide a point of contact between government, academia and the shipping industry as it prepares for a future autonomous.

In June, the Mayflower 400, an autonomous vessel designed and developed by marine researchers ProMare and technology partner IBM, is expected to become the first full-size, fully autonomous unmanned vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean, offering a small glimpse of the future .

“Fueled by data and algorithms, AI increases the autonomous capabilities of ships and we anticipate that there will be a gradual increase in autonomy as the technology develops, where a ship can eventually navigate on its own from A to B without manual navigation aid. officer, ”says Gross.

Margie D. Carlisle