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Shell partners with Orca AI to innovate autonomous navigation


Oil major Shell is deepening its partnership with the Israel-based Orca AI to drive further breakthroughs in the field of navigation technology.

The relationship between Shell and Orca initially began in 2019. This was when Shell’s research and development team for maritime and shipping identified the navigation tool from Orca AI as potentially being suitable for scaling up to larger vessels. The next year, a Shell-operated gas tanker hosted a six-month trial of Orca’s navigation system.

This system took data from onboard sensors and combined it with data from various low-light and thermal cameras to generate a reliable picture of the vessel’s surrounding waters in real time. The crew of the trial tanker found it especially helpful in areas close to shore with a high volume of traffic.

Shell, which also makes lubricant and grease products, will now assist Orca in making the system more suitable for all cargo types. Dor Raviv, a co-founder of Orca AI and its chief technology officer, also said about an upcoming voyage comparison module:

“The module is ground-breaking in that it enables users to see exactly where events occurred on a map display, including route deviations due to bad weather, alongside accompanying images and video. Secondly, users can compare different sections of a route to benchmark different KPIs across their fleet.”

While the current system simply recommends optimal timing and manoeuvring to the captain, the ultimate aim is for the system to be wired into the propulsion system. This is so it can pilot the vessel directly, subject to human supervision.

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