The news

Tel Aviv-based Orca AI has raised $13 million in Series A funding for its computer-vision solution that adds navigation and collision avoidance tech to commercial and cargo ships. The solution includes thermal cameras and hi-res low-light cameras to augment a ship’s existing sensors, as well as dedicated GPUs to run sophisticated AI and deep learning algorithms.

Orca AI offers ships a range of functionality to improve situational awareness:

  • The CV and AI algorithm use the low-light and thermal sensors to to monitor passing ships and other objects. Even in challenging weather, or congested waterways.
  • At the same time, it ranks these objects according to their collision potential.
  • It sounds smart alarms when there is a high potential for collision, grounding, or another issue.
  • The system can also be used to monitor fleets, see live video for each ship in real time, and ensure regulatory compliance.
  • After a collision, it can also supply a “black box” recording of the event.

Why does it matter?

This one is easy. Anyone who has followed the news recently knows that a single collision or grounding can cause significant damage. Think of the recent grounding of the cargo ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal, which lasted 6 days and prevented an estimated $9.6 billion in global trade. Or, to give another example: The grounding of the Exxon Valdez 1989, which spilled 10.8 gallons of crude oil into the water off the Alaskan coast.

As Orca notes, “Marine incidents” are more common than you might think (even if most of them are less spectacular). About 4,000 occur annually, and a vast majority of them are caused by human error. Orca hopes its technology for increased situational awareness and collision monitoring can reduce this number significantly, and limit the damage they cause.

Here’s a demo video from 2019. For more information, see the Orca AI website.