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Orca AI secures a huge $23M from OCV Partners and MizMaa Ventures

ByYasmeeta Oon

May 26, 2024
Orca AI secures $23M from OCV Partners and MizMaa Ventures

Orca AI secures a huge $23M from OCV Partners and MizMaa Ventures

The concept of autonomous navigation is no longer confined to cars; it has expanded into the maritime sector, revolutionizing the way ships traverse the seas. The “autonomous navigation” market, where ships navigate themselves using AI, is set to grow significantly. Projections indicate an increase from $4.46 billion in 2023 to $5.33 billion in 2024. A notable player in this space is Orca AI, a London-based startup that recently secured $23 million in fresh funding, led by OCV Partners and MizMaa Ventures.

Founded in late 2018 by Israeli naval technology experts Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, Orca AI claims the title of having powered the world’s first autonomous commercial ship voyage in congested waters. With its latest funding round, described as being between a Series A and Series B, the startup has raised nearly $40 million to date. The funds will be allocated towards scaling operations, expanding the engineering team, and developing new products based on data collected from clients.

Orca AI’s AI navigation technology, launched commercially in 2021, processes multiple sources of visual information during sea navigation. This technology not only keeps the ship on course but also allows the crew to focus on other critical aspects of the voyage, such as monitoring for drone attacks and piracy in increasingly unstable geopolitical conditions.

In a 2023 trial, Orca AI’s system demonstrated its effectiveness by reducing “close encounters in open waters” by 33% and “crossing events” by 40% across 15 million nautical miles. To provide context, the European Maritime Safety Agency reported over 2,500 significant marine incidents in 2022. Additionally, Orca AI’s system has proven to be economically beneficial, potentially yielding $100,000 to $300,000 in fuel savings per vessel per year by reducing fuel consumption by 3% to 5%.

The environmental impact is equally noteworthy. Orca AI’s technology achieved a CO2 reduction of 72,716 tons across 1,000 vessels last year. With the shipping industry under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, Orca AI’s innovations are timely and crucial, offering substantial opportunities for entrepreneurs to digitize and enhance the efficiency of the maritime sector.

Key Statistics of Orca AI’s Impact
Fuel Savings per Vessel$100,000 to $300,000 annually
Reduction in Fuel Consumption3% to 5%
CO2 Reduction72,716 tons across 1,000 vessels
Reduction in Close Encounters33%
Reduction in Crossing Events40%
  • Fuel Efficiency: Significant fuel savings and reduced consumption.
  • Environmental Impact: Substantial reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Safety Improvements: Fewer close encounters and crossing events.
  • Operational Efficiency: Enhanced fleet management and reduced crew workload.
  • Economic Benefits: Cost savings on fuel and potentially lower insurance premiums due to increased safety.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Yarden Gross, Orca AI’s CEO and co-founder, emphasized the transformative potential of autonomous maritime navigation. “When you talk about oceangoing vessels, we’re going to see, in the near future, vessels sailing without any crew. In the meantime, you can optimize and automate many parts of the voyage, reducing workload and the number of crew members needed. This optimization extends to fuel consumption, emissions, estimated time of arrival, and overall safety.”

Orca AI’s platform uploads all data to the cloud, providing comprehensive monitoring tools and capabilities for fleet managers. “This means they can operate not just one vessel, but the entire fleet,” Gross explained. “Think of it as an operational platform for a semi-autonomous fleet.”

Hemi Zucker, managing partner at OCV, highlighted the vast potential of autonomous ships. “Maritime transport is the lifeblood of international trade and the global economy. Over 80% of the volume of international trade in goods is carried by sea, a $2 trillion market by some estimates. While planes, trains, and automobiles have seen tremendous progress and investment in autopilot and collision prevention, the shipping industry remains ripe for disruption. There is a category-defining opportunity in autonomous ships — ships that captain themselves.”

Orca AI collaborates with major global shipping companies, including MSC, NYK, Maersk, and Seaspan, showcasing its industry-wide acceptance and the trust placed in its technology.

The transition to autonomous navigation is not without challenges. The maritime industry must address concerns around safety, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance. Additionally, the technology must prove its reliability in diverse and often harsh maritime environments.

However, the potential benefits outweigh the challenges. Autonomous ships can significantly reduce human error, enhance operational efficiency, and improve environmental sustainability. As geopolitical tensions rise and threats to global shipping routes increase, automation can also enhance security and reduce the risks faced by crews.

Orca AI is at the forefront of a significant shift in maritime navigation. By leveraging AI and autonomous technologies, the company is driving improvements in safety, efficiency, and sustainability. With substantial funding and a clear vision for the future, Orca AI is poised to lead the way in transforming the maritime industry, demonstrating that the future of autonomous navigation extends far beyond cars.

As the autonomous navigation market continues to grow, Orca AI’s innovations will likely play a crucial role in shaping the future of global shipping, making the seas safer, greener, and more efficient.

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Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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