Japan's AI-Powered Port Stops Ships Colliding Better Than Humans

Fujitsu's Zinrai AI proved in a trial that artificial intelligence can guide shipping better than humans.
Brad Bergan
Image formatted to fit. kokouu / iStock

Future mobility enthusiasts usually think about e-bikes, e-scooters, and other vehicles and planes of futuristic variety. Rarely do we think about boat traffic, but Fujitsu believes artificial intelligence may play a significant role in global ports, reports The Next Web.


Fujitsu's Zinrai AI guides boat traffic better than us

Large cargo ships move goods in the tens of billions of tons worldwide, every year. This makes them a vital part of the global supply chains, and not an easy one to manage. This is why the computer and electronics manufacturer Fujitsu has offered AI as a way to bring sea-based shipping to the 21st century.

During a trial carried out between December 2019 and March 2020, Fujitsu and the Japan Coast Guard successfully proved the effectiveness of AI in preventing serious collisions between vessels.

Near-misses between ships were detected with technology running on Fujitsu's Zinrai AI system, which also predicted areas of high risk for collision in the Tokyo Bay area. The method involved adding new tech to Vessel Traffic Services systems employed by port control authorities, which let them better manage ship movement in port.

Fujitsu added that using the technology helps port operators identify possible collisions a full two minutes faster than conventional port management systems, according to TNW. The new system also provides more accurate and consistent operation independent of controller experience, which means maritime safety can reach new heights.

Fujitsu Collision Prevention
Operators work to dissect shipping behavior and prevent shipping collisions. Source: Fujitsu Verifies AI Technology / Fujitsu

Fujitsu AI enhanced shipping safety, environment

Powered by AI, the new system also sent nearly twice the number of alerts to ship captains aboard risk-prone vessels. Port authorities think this, too, has improved maritime safety.

Japenese port authorities record more than 280 maritime collisions per year, all of which put crew safety, supply chains, and the surrounding environment at risk.

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The drive to reduce maritime collisions is hard, but Fujitsu's system may be making headway.

"The field trial has demonstrated that Fujitsu's collision risk prediction technology is effective in assisting operation controllers," said the Maritime Traffic Department Japan Coast Guard, according to TNW.

In the near future, Japanese port authorities plan to further develop and implement the new AI technology.

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