Orca AI Raises US$23m to propel autonomous shipping

Orca AI, the provider of AI-based operational platform for ships, has raised US$23m in funding, led by OCV Partners and Mizmaa Ventures, taking its total raised to nearly US$40m.

Orca AI’s solution is the first step in introducing autonomous features to vessels already on the water. In 2022, it powered the world’s first autonomous commercial ship voyage with NYK and is now working on the second phase of fully autonomous ship technology, which will be rolled out in 2025.

Founded by naval technology experts, Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, Orca AI’s platform maximises voyage safety, operational efficiency and sustainability for ships and fleets. It features a fully automated watchkeeper that processes multiple sources of visual information during navigation at sea, mimicking and enhancing human watchkeeping in the most complex marine traffic situations in real-time.

Keeping ships safe with AI

In 2023, there were over 2,500 significant marine incidents. In the same period, working with the biggest global shipping companies including MSC, NYK, Maersk and Seaspan. Orca AI reduced close encounters by 33% and crossing events by 40% across 15 million nautical miles.

By detecting and alerting crew to high-risk marine targets, Orca AI optimizes operations to avoid unnecessary manoeuvres and speed drops, reducing fuel burn and emissions. The improved navigational decisions enabled by Orca AI resulted in an average US$100 – 300k fuel saving per vessel per year (3-5%) and a reduction of 172,716 tonnes of CO2 last year.

Orca AI also enables proactive threat mitigation from diverse threats, such as drone attacks and piracy, by empowering vessel personnel to anticipate and counteract these risks, bolstering vessel security and protecting crews and sensitive cargo.

Orders for the platform will soon surpass more than 1,000 vessels. By raising this capital, Orca AI will be able to invest in technology, expand internationally and grow, all of which will contribute to reducing maritime carbon emissions and improving the efficiency and safety of navigation.

On the raise, Yarden Gross, CEO and co-founder, said: “Innovations in high-speed, low-cost, global connectivity, such as with Elon Musk’s Starlink, have opened the door for advanced technologies such as AI on board vessels to improve operational efficiency and safety.

“It’s a welcomed pivotal moment, as despite the majority of global cargo transported by sea, the maritime industry has lagged behind industries such as aviation when it comes to keeping up with technological innovations.

“Ships deal with increasingly congested waterways, severe weather and low-visibility conditions creating difficult navigation experiences with often expensive cargo. We’ve recently proven forward-thinking companies that adopt our technology have seen huge operational improvements from year to year, in creating a safer and more efficient shipping industry. These Improvements are crucial for shipping companies in meeting corporate sustainability targets, but importantly, the benefits are far-reaching beyond just the customers.”

Catherine Leung, Co-Founder & Partner at MizMaa Ventures, further commented: “It’s clear that AI has a crucial role in advancing the maritime sector and I’m excited to see Orca AI pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in shipping. Making smarter navigation choices not only boosts safety but also cuts down on fuel use and CO2 emissions. That’s what makes the Orca AI platform stand out and be trusted by the leading shipping companies in the world”.

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Copyright: © David Garb

Caption: Yarden Gross, is one of the founders of Orca AI