AI in shipping: How technology will help shape the maritime landscape

Posted by
The Signal Group
June 21, 2022

At Posidonia earlier this month, Signal offered a vision of a technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven future for shipping, which underpins relationships and human decision-making by industry professionals.

Hosted at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) in Athens, over 1000 guests listened to insight and analysis from Signal Group founder Ioannis Martinos and Constantinos Daskalakis, the MIT Computer Science Professor.

Martinos explained that personal relationships - and the role of brokers - will remain key as shipping continues to thrive globally.
He also described a landscape where commercial data won’t be democratised, but the use of technology in shipping will evolve.
“There are people, especially in the technology world, that are democratising some of the information, but I don’t think that is a trend that can actually come to full completion because many of the commodity traders would rather keep the price at which they are selling commodities, and the destination where the commodities are going, secret,” the tech entrepreneur said.

Martinos also discussed the continued pressure facing shipping companies on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors.
“There is more scrutiny and more expectations from us as an industry,” he added. “We only make 3% of global CO2, but that doesn’t mean that we do not have to do our part.”
The execution speed to fix vessels will become 10 times faster in the years to come, Martinos went on to predict.

“All the things that take a lot of time now, at least half of them are going to become 10 times faster over the next 30 years in my opinion.”

Daskalakis, a world renowned professor and AI expert, gave an overview of the role AI could play in shipping and across a range of other sectors.
AI, and computation in general, comes in various flavours, allowing us to solve different real-life and business problems. It is excellent to follow and support Signal’s endeavours to bring AI to shipping,” Daskalakis said.
“Translation software and language models, in particular, have made remarkable progress.” he added.
“AI, however, is prone to make mistakes and needs carefully considered human supervision.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how Signal Maritime pursues sustainably leading performance through the Signal Ocean Platform.
Since its launch in 2018, Signal Ocean has continued evolving and now tracks more than 42,000 unique ships across all shipping segments and all global trades. Signal is currently working on bringing everything a professional needs to follow and trade shipping routes in a new series of topic-centric dashboards.

The platform continuously processes and combines streams of private and public data such as AIS, tonnage lists, cargo lists, vessel positions, port costs, port line-ups and freight rates. Using advanced algorithms and AI, data is transformed into private and actionable insights on the freight market. Users can optimally match vessels to cargoes, run profitability comparisons, make CO2 estimates, and use Signal’s patented technology to forecast vessel movements and availability across the globe.

As part of the presentations, Signal Ventures - the investment arm of the Signal Group - reported that the maritime technology market had grown 18% faster than anticipated pre-pandemic and was on track to reach USD 345bn by 2030.

An estimated USD 3bn has been invested by venture capital since 2020. Signal Ventures has itself invested in 11 start-ups in the commodity, supply chain, operations and vessel management sectors. Three of the portfolio companies have already completed follow-up funding rounds.

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