AI-powered navigation is hoped to inform and support crew decisions on the bridge. Credit: Jeppesen
A navigation tool equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) to spot and prevent incidents caused by human error on the bridge has been launched by Transas.
The cloud-based system, called ‘A-Suite’, has been designed to “improve situational awareness” and inform, rather than take over from, crews’ decision making. It uses machine learning to detect anomalies in crew members’ behaviour and raises an alarm before a poor or incorrect decision, or momentary lapse of attention, becomes dangerous. Frank Coles, chief executive officer at Transas, told Fairplay’s sister title, Safety at Sea(SAS), that it takes two to three months of data “for it to reliably produce accurate traffic predictions”, adding that it will continue to learn and improve as more training data are fed into the system.
“Technology shouldn’t be an end in itself – but a tool to achieve an end,” he said. “We want to help the industry improve by enabling it to make better decisions and boost competitive advantage, using machine intelligence to augment the human in the loop.”
A-Suite is also expected to help personnel managing VTSs and people running shore-based fleet operation centres by participating in “real-time decision support”. The information can also be used in post-voyage analysis and to improve seafarer training.
The suite is available to end-users now and will become “fully operational” over the coming months. It comprises three core modules: Advanced Intelligent Manoeuvring (AIM), Advanced Intelligent Diagnostics (AID), and Advanced Intelligent Routing (AIR).
AIM is a predictive system and ‘anti-collision support tool’ that helps predict and prevent incidents by learning the behaviour of crew members. It does this by comparing their actions with those previously collected from personnel sailing in the same location. This, combined with a hydrodynamic model of the vessel and anti-collision regulations that have been coded into the system, provides ‘advanced decision support’ for crew.
Meanwhile, AID is designed to detect anomalies and support real-time decision making, as well as a “more methodical” post-voyage analysis. By taking data from equipment and environmental sensors, it is able to spot excessive or unusual manoeuvring patterns, speed and rates of turn, as well as unexpected changes in fuel consumption. It also records how and when operators interact with vessel controls. AIR is used for voyage planning and optimisation using real-time metoceandata (oceanographic and marine data including current, wave, sea level, and meteorological data), hazards, and anticipated vessel traffic along the route and known bottlenecks.
Importantly, the system does not require crew to update special electronic charts (SENCs), weather data, and other navigational notices, thanks to an Advanced Data Delivery (ADD), Advanced Remote Maintenance (ARM) and Advanced Intelligent Routing (AIR), which automates these procedures. This is all built upon THESIS (Transas Harmonised Eco System of Integrated Solutions), a scaleable platform launched in 2016 that enables ships, ship operations offices, and training facilities to communicate and share information to “reduce the administrative load” on ships.
In a bid to overcome ‘alarm fatigue’ experienced by crew bombarded by alerts from onboard technology, the suite is claimed to generate “far fewer real-time alerts than other systems”. The logic in A-Suite takes individual alerts when single parameters have exceeded their threshold values and then interprets them as part of a holistic assessment of the ship’s situation. “This means it consolidates multiple standard alerts and reduces cognitive load on the user”, Coles explained, adding that it not only warns users about abnormal situations but provides recommendations on how to prevent the situation from escalating.
“A core objective of THESIS, and by extension A-Suite, is to enable collaboration through the whole operational chain,” Coles said. “Alerts generated by A-Suite are automatically received on shore, which facilitates decision support from a vessel’s head office in critical situations.”
Coles stressed that training crew to use A-Suite “is much more straightforward than…ECDIS” and is “highly configurable” so can be set up to provide users “with as little or as much information and alerts as they feel comfortable with and in alignment with a fleet’s individual operating procedures”.
A-Suite also includes an e-learning tool called Advanced Remote Training for Seafarers, which provides online access to manufacturer-approved, type-specific training courses for Transas ECDISs, compliant with SOLAS, ISM, and STCW requirements.