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Orca AI secures $23M to advance development of autonomous shipping technology

Orca AI secures $23M to advance development of autonomous shipping technology
Image credit: DepositPhotos/rekrut

Orca AI, an AI-powered operational platform for ships, has secured $23 million in a new funding round. This investment, led by OCV Partners and Mizmaa Ventures, brings Orca AI’s total funding to nearly $40 million and positions the company as a key player in the development of autonomous shipping technology.

Last year, to make shipping greener, Smart Green Shipping company had announced £5M investment in wing sail technology.

What problem is Orca AI solving

Orca AI’s solution focuses on introducing AI features to existing vessels, aiming to improve safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The company’s platform acts as a “digital watchkeeper,” processing visual data during navigation to mimic and enhance human capabilities, particularly in complex situations with heavy traffic. 

This technology has already seen success, powering the world’s first autonomous commercial ship voyage in 2022 with NYK. Orca AI is currently developing the second phase of its technology, targeting a full rollout of autonomous ship capabilities in 2025.

Yarden Gross, CEO and co-founder of Orca AI, highlights the role of advancements like Elon Musk’s Starlink in enabling high-speed, low-cost global connectivity. This connectivity, he argues, opens doors for advanced technologies like Orca AI’s platform to improve operational efficiency and safety at sea. He emphasises the need for the maritime industry to embrace technological innovation, especially considering the critical role it plays in global trade.

Where does the startup stand in terms of safety and efficiency

Founded by naval technology experts Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, Orca AI prioritises real-world impact. In 2023, working with major shipping companies like MSC, NYK, Maersk, and Seaspan, the platform reportedly reduced close encounters at sea by 33% and crossing events by 40% across 15 million nautical miles. This translates to improved safety for crews and vessels.

Orca AI’s technology also boasts environmental and economic advantages. By detecting high-risk situations and optimising operations, the platform helps ships avoid unnecessary manoeuvres and speed adjustments, leading to reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Last year alone, Orca AI estimated their platform achieved an average fuel saving of $100,000 to $300,000 per vessel, translating to a total reduction of 172,716 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

How does Orca AI deal with security threats and expanding reach

The platform goes beyond navigational assistance. Orca AI empowers crews to proactively mitigate threats like drone attacks and piracy by anticipating and counteracting potential risks. This contributes to bolstering vessel security and crew safety. 

With orders for the platform surpassing 1,000 vessels, Orca AI is poised for significant growth. The new funding will be used to invest in technology development, international expansion, and overall growth, ultimately contributing to a reduction in maritime carbon emissions and improved efficiency and safety standards within the industry.

Hemi Zucker, Managing Partner at OCV Partners, emphasises the vast market potential of autonomous shipping technology. With over 80% of international trade goods transported by sea, Zucker sees autonomous ships as a “category defining opportunity.”

Likewise, Catherine Leung, Co-Founder & Partner at MizMaa Ventures, commends Orca AI for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in shipping, highlighting the platform’s ability to not only improve safety but also reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

What do we think about the startup

Orca AI’s latest funding round and demonstrated success in the field suggest a potential turning point for autonomous shipping technology. With a focus on safety, efficiency, and environmental impact, Orca AI’s platform positions itself as a valuable tool for shipping companies and a potential driver of positive change within the maritime industry. 

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