Photo: Image courtesy: Lean Marine

Swedish industry experts developing AI-powered ship operations system to cut emissions

Lean Marine and AI-application developers Molflow have joined forces with the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg to develop an AI-powered, semi-autonomous system for planning and executing sea voyages.

The Via Kaizen project is funded by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket, and is being coordinated by CIT Industriell Energi AB.

The project, which aims to help execute more energy efficient sea voyages, started in August 2020.

It builds on Lean Marine’s FuelOpt and Fleet Analytics technology and Molflow’s Slipstream technology which enable a higher degree of digitalization and automation in vessel operations.

The ‘on top’ propulsion automation system FuelOpt optimizes the propulsion line dynamically, in real-time, based on orders given by the AI system that has been developed within the scope of the Via Kaizen project.

In addition, the FuelOpt system gathers data from the AI system and other signals onboard.

As explained, the vast amount of vessel data collected is then fed into Lean Marine’s cloud-based performance management platform Fleet Analytics where it will be shared with Molflow’s vessel modelling system, Slipstream.

“In the Via Kaizen project, Slipstream will be trained on ship data available from Lean Marine’s Fleet Analytics™ platform and will describe the vessel performance in different conditions with deep learning technologies,” Joakim Möller, Founder of Molflow, explains.

“Our Slipstream system will then be able to determine, given the constraints of the route and the ship, the most energy efficient voyage and calculate the commands that need to be set to reach the destination with the least possible amount of fuel consumed.”

Once ‘the perfect simulated journey’ is determined, FuelOpt™ steps in and creates an interface between the captain and the AI-based voyage planning solution, empowering them to cooperate and execute the voyage accordingly. FuelOpt™ will act as a key enabler in AI-powered voyages thanks to its ability to automatically and directly optimize the propulsion line based on commands set by the captain and/or sent by the AI voyage optimization solution, in this case from SlipStream,” said Linus Ideskog, Director of Development at Lean Marine.

From an academic perspective, naval architect researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology are working in close collaboration with Lean Marine and Molflow on the development of new methods, models, and algorithms. Researchers from social anthropology and human factors at Gothenburg University and Linnaeus University are conducting research on what happens to practices onboard and ashore as the new technology is implemented.

The Swedish Shipowners’ Association is also participating in the project, providing vital insights and input from the Swedish shipping industry and by contributing to the dissemination of research findings and development information to the Swedish maritime industry.

Mikael Laurin, CEO of Lean Marine, believes the project will contribute considerably to the reduction of emissions both from international and domestic transportation, making Swedish shipping more sustainable and competitive in the long-term.

Separately, Lean Marine has signed a contract with the Finnish refiner Neste to install the FuelOp ‘on top’ propulsion automation system onboard two newbuilding Aframax crude oil tankers.

FuelOpt optimizes a vessel’s propulsion line in real-time based on the commands set for engine power, fuel consumption, speed, or a combination thereof.

According to Lean Marine, this enables the automated control of vessel speed and fuel consumption, allowing for the avoidance of potential fuel overconsumption in harsh sea conditions, such as high swells and winds.

Up until now, FuelOpt™ has been installed onboard on over 100 tankers, by a range of tanker-owners and operators, including Stenersen, Knutsen, Team Tankers, Utkilen, Ektank, Älvtank, Veritas Tankers and Donsötank.