Maritime companies should see artificial intelligence (AI) as a transforming technology that will allow them to get ahead of the market as integrating AI in autonomous shipping, navigational support systems, and vessel performance optimisation solutions will deliver value to users when implemented properly.

Admittedly, the adoption of AI in the maritime industry is at a nascent phase, and its development will depend on the computing infrastructure and the connectivity solutions available. However, it is likely to be among the technologies that will soon experience industry-wide acceptance given the level of investment being poured into the disruption of the global supply chain.

In our new research programme, our ‘Artificial Intelligence in Maritime’ report written in collaboration with Thetius, highlighted that the maritime industry is forecast to spend $931 million this year on artificial intelligence solutions. That figure is forecast to more than double in the next five years to $2.7 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate of 23%.

This rapid growth is driven in part by investment into the sector. In the last 12 months, $331 million has been invested in startups and SMEs developing AI solutions for the maritime sector, with a further $43 million in grant funding being awarded to develop the technology for the maritime sector around the world.

A lot of the initial research and development in AI technology has been focused on autonomy and sustainability with the ambition of building the capability of a smart fleet of vessels. Many companies have begun by addressing incremental changes such as optimising individual vessel performance while others are experimenting on a fleet of vessels capable of moving cargo remotely and safely.

As the regulatory landscape shifts the maritime industry’s focus towards sustainability, how the market currently operates and plans to operate in the future will change. This does not only pertain to the environment but also the people involved in the industry’s growth. From the seafarers to the policymakers, every individual that is involved in enabling the maritime supply chain will be affected by how artificial intelligence will take its place in the industry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy is the Business Director responsible for Maritime Performance Services, leading the Maritime Professional Services, Fleet Management and Fleet Optimization segments of the company.

Andy is responsible for developing and executing LR's strategy to become a trusted advisor to maritime stakeholders, bringing together the deep domain technical expertise within the advisory and consultancy arms, and combing this with the data and digital expertise within the maritime software services to create value added solutions for our clients.

Andy joined Lloyd’s Register as Commercial Director for the Marine and Offshore business in February 2019. Prior to joining Lloyd’s Register, Andy spent over 20 years in the marine, offshore and naval sectors for Cegelec, Alstom, Converteam and General Electric. Andy has held various global roles since embarking on his maritime career in 1998, ranging from shipyard commissioning, field engineering, project management, before moving into business and global leadership roles.

Currently, there are several use cases for AI in maritime that have begun to gain traction. This includes decision support solutions (autonomous navigation), its use for generating insights regarding machinery health (digital health management and remote diagnostics), and its integration in autonomous ship systems, which enables an alternative future of an unmanned commercial fleet (virtual commissioning).

One area where Lloyd’s Register’s Maritime Performance Services through our subsidiary i4 Insight has developed vast experience is in the use of AI for vessel optimisation and helping to ultimately improve vessel performance. We have found that traditional and legacy data analytics only look at 10% of vessel data, whereas our AI models can now look at close to 100% of vessel data and process this data instantaneously to create extremely accurate vessel performance insights around fuel consumption, speed, trim, hull fouling and power consumption.

Without question, the combination of massive investment and rapidly increasing demand means that artificial intelligence is one of the fastest growing digital technology sectors in the maritime industry today. However, knowing how to capitalise on the AI opportunity can be difficult and fraught with risk. It calls for trusted advice.

To help maritime stakeholders find suitable AI providers and solutions for their business challenges, last December Lloyd’s Register (LR) also launched a standardised digital register of LR certified AI providers and solutions - a first of its kind for the maritime industry. Using the LR AI Register, maritime companies can minimise the risk and cost of investing in AI technology while successfully benefiting from AI advances, improving business outcomes and their competitive advantage.