Orca AI has launched to prevent maritime collisions by providing AI-backed navigational solutions for the shipping industry, backed by a $2.6 million seed round led by MizMaa Ventures and including funding from Ray Carriers and The Dock.

Collisions and other maritime incidents have been on the rise for the past several years, jumping from 2,000 in 2011 to an estimated 4,000 in 2017. The vast majority of maritime collisions occur in congested waterways, often in areas near ports or in narrow waterways. Current navigation tools are less effective in these situations and rely on the crew’s judgment to navigate safely, providing room for human error which is the cause of more than 75% of collisions.

Orca AI’s system is designed for crowded waterways and the harshest, lowest visibility, scenarios. By supplementing existing onboard sensors with thermal and low light cameras as well as an AI-powered navigation and vessel tracking system, crews can easily detect ships in any situation at both long and short distances, providing them with sufficient time to remedy their course and avoid a collision. The solution will also be able to recommend course corrections and actions to avoid potentially dangerous situations and is the first step in introducing autonomous and semi-autonomous features to vessels already on the water.

Offering a ready-to-deploy, easily installed, and an affordable solution that is already fully compatible with international shipping and safety regulations, Orca AI’s collision avoidance system provides immediate improvements in hard to navigate situations and congested waterways. Already installed and being piloted onboard several ships owned by Ray Carriers, Orca AI is addressing a serious issue today by reducing the risk of collisions which cost the shipping industry billions of dollars annually, while simultaneously harvesting data to build smarter systems for the future.

“The maritime environment is unique, with severe weather and low-light conditions creating situations with minimal visibility. We wanted to tackle the hardest part of navigation head-on with an easy-to-use tool that empowers crews with a more detailed picture of their surroundings in situations with little to no visibility,” said Yarden Gross, CEO, and Co-Founder. “The progression towards autonomous ships needs to be gradual, first by demonstrating value on the water with insight and recommendations and then taking control in specific voyage segments. Our solution is doing just that, showing the benefits that can be enjoyed with an advanced system operated by the crew while building the framework for the future of maritime navigation.”

A highly regulated and conservative industry, commercial shipping has been hesitant to adopt high-tech solutions that would remove control from the hands of trained captains and crews. Orca AI is working to improve navigational safety with a system that can have an impact today, empowering ships’ crews to perform at a higher level instead of waiting years for full-fledged autonomous solutions that would require a substantial shift both in regulation and industry practices.

“The shipping industry spends billions of dollars a year covering the expenses of collisions, and executives are looking for solutions that can get the problem under control, but most solutions on the market are expensive and only currently offer partial answers to the issue,” said Catherine Leung, Co-Founder and General Partner of MizMaa Ventures. “Orca AI’s system was created to have an impact from the moment of installation and doesn’t require extensive retrofitting of crew training, rather it is an affordable and highly effective solution for a problem the industry has not succeeded in solving until now.”

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