Monday, September 10, 2018

AI Planning Aboard Merchant Shipping as RoRo Cruise Ferry Acts as Initial Pilot Test Vessel  

Artificial Intelligence on the Bridge to Assist in Fuel Economy

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Shipping News Feature EUROPE – Stena Line has been working with engineering and technology group Hitachi to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model to predict the most fuel efficient route for a vessel under any circumstances. The RoRo cruise ferry MS Stena Scandinavica is testing the system under the watchful eye of Senior Master Jan Sjöström who has been working with fuel optimisation at Stena Line for the last 40 years. He commented:

“Since we are helping the AI to evolve, we might be assisting the AI more at the moment, but it is a very exciting and rewarding process. We’ve been making adjustments to the model after each trip for about four weeks and it is amazing to see how quickly it is learning.

“Planning a trip and handling a vessel in a safe and, at the same time, fuel efficient way is craftsmanship. Practice makes perfect, but when assisted by AI a new captain or officer could learn how to fuel optimise quicker. In return, this contributes to a more sustainable journey.”

The goal is to create a model that is so precise that it would be the ultimate decision support system for the captain when planning each trip. For example, if AI could assist with accurate predictions of currents, which is one of the most complicated variables today, it would be of help to even the most experienced captain or officer. Lars Carlsson, Head of AI at Stena Line, explained:

”The model simulates many different scenarios before suggesting the most optimal route and performance setup. With the help of AI we are able to consider a number of variables, such as currents, weather conditions, shallow water and speed through water, in various combinations which would be impossible to do manually.”

Stena Line has an overall goal that the whole company should be assisted by AI in 2021 and the pilot study on Stena Scandinavica, on the Gothenburg - Kiel route, is the first of several studies regarding AI-assisted ferry trips within the fleet this year. At the end of the year there will be an evaluation of the project, before deciding how to continue with AI-assistance on the company’s 38 ships.

Moving forward, the model will also help sharing competence and knowledge with the next generation of captains and officers and the intent is that, if successful, AI will enable Stena to achieve the company’s sustainability target to reduce fuel consumption by 2.5 % annually. Stena Line is already being assisted by AI within several areas such as administration, finance, customer experience and customer care. Ram Ramachander, Chief Digital Officer at Hitachi Europe Ltd. explained his company’s role, saying:

“We are proud to be working with Stena Line to develop and implement AI technology that will deliver benefits to both the company and the environment. By taking a co-creation approach, working together to combine industry expertise with data and AI, Hitachi and Stena Line have been able to show how digitisation can optimise existing physical assets to create a better outcome.”

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