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Bridge personnel vote ‘yes’ to digital watch-keeping system

Photo: OrcaAI SeaPod by OrcaAI
The SeaPod, a situational awareness device developed by digital technology company OrcaAI, has already been installed on ships operated by major groups including Maran Tankers, MSC, NYK, and Seaspan.

In an internal survey at TMS Tankers, another customer based in Greece with about 50 tankers, almost all bridge personnel said the system that supports safe watch-keeping in all weather conditions was beneficial and improved confidence.

Developed by the Tel Aviv-based digital automation specialist and available on a subscription basis, SeaPod is now in operation on about 250 ships. The company has an orderbook of 700 units and is installing about 40 new systems every month.

Positioned on the compass deck, the SeaPod comprises eight highly sensitive cameras providing field-of-view coverage of 225°. The system also has high-performing forward-looking infrared thermographic imaging devices across 100°.

Objects including ships, small craft, floating containers, marine mammals, and large floating debris such as fishing nets can be detected and tracked at distances of up to four nautical miles regardless of prevailing weather conditions. Algorithms assess moving targets, measuring distance, direction and assessing risk.   

“Today’s technology on board ships is outdated,” declares CEO Yarden Gross, “but this will change. Vessels will become more connected to the cloud as 5G becomes available across oceans. We want ships to be able to sail from Point A to Point B in the most efficient and most sustainable way that is possible. This means that we need to start automating and optimising parts of the workload. One of these is watch-keeping.

“Improving situational awareness through automated all-target detection and risk prioritisation not only minimises workload and fatigue for bridge officers, but also helps crews make better decisions earlier,” he added. “It eliminates confusion and reduces the risk of human error especially in congested waters and challenging visibility conditions.”

Ease of installation has been a priority. Technicians can easily carry the 10kg unit which can be installed within a day. Any faults can be identified by an operator in real time at the press of a button, the company said. Permanent recordings enable crew debriefing and training.  

For new customers, the company initially provides trials on one or two ships. No subscribers have withdrawn from the service, Gross said. The company uses a manufacturing base in Europe and is planning to expand production capacity later this year.

The SeaPod complies with all regulatory requirements including the IMO’s Safety of Life at Sea Convention and the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping  (STCW) Convention that requires a human lookout to detect targets from a specific distance.