In Focus: Close encounters down by 25 per cent for Orca AI customers

Analysis from Orca AI, an automated situational awareness platform, says its system has reduced close encounter events by more than 25 per cent for its 100+ customer vessels.

The analysis was conducted on 110 commercial vessels, spanning tankers, containers, bulkers and ro-ro vessels, which were equipped with the Orca AI platform throughout 2022.

Orca AI calculated that during this period, its customers saw a 26.9 per cent reduction in the number of close encounter events, a 21.6 per cent decline in sharp manoeuvres, and an 18 per cent reduction in extreme drops of speed. These then led to improvements in operational efficiency, which Orca AI estimates as a 66,300 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions in total.

Automated situational awareness tech

“Orca AI was founded with a fundamental commitment to help create a safer, more efficient and sustainable shipping industry,” says Dor Raviv, co-founder.

“The impressive numbers are a result of our cutting-edge technology, and a close collaboration with our innovative and forward-thinking customers. The learnings from data collected by our platform helped our customers to adjust their companies’ safety policies and navigation-related operations and processes.

“The masters, officers and fleet managers we worked with quickly realised that Orca AI generates a real, tangible impact, and helps to mitigate the associated costs of safety incidents, downtime and reputational damage.”

The safety analysis was conducted on 10 million nautical miles of data collected in open waters by ships using the Orca AI platform. On average, each vessel experienced three close encounter events per 1,000 nautical miles sailed. Each close encounter event was analysed with various KPIs including the closest point of approach, time to closest point of approach, reaction time, average speed over ground, average cross-track error and weather conditions.

Orca interactions

Technology has been cited for saving the lives of four people who were plucked from a liferaft in the Pacific Ocean after a ‘huge whale’ crashed into their 1976 Kelly Peterson 44, Raindancer, in March 2023. “Without Starlink our rescue wouldn’t have gone so swiftly and smoothly. Technology saved our lives,” captain Rick Rodriguez said at the time. Though whether it will be helpful for those sailing the Iberian coastline remains to be seen – once boats could amble there at leisure, but since 2020 there have been over 100 orca ‘interactions’ where boats have been spun around and repeatedly rammed, two of which incidents have ended in yachts sinking. According to the Cruising Association, 15 per cent of the boats involved in interactions end up being towed to shore. Thus the organisation has taken up the challenge of collating reports, to analyse data and then try to reduce risk for those in the Gibraltar Straits. It recently suggested that black antifoul might be a causal factor in which boats are attacked.

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