Using AI in ports: a promising future with careful training.

The full potential of AI for ports is yet to come
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The maritime sector is looking to leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to increase efficiency and sustainability, with ports and shipping companies already seeing the benefits of AI-enabled solutions. AI can optimise port, tugboat, and pilotage operations using machine learning algorithms to learn from a port’s data and allocate resources such as tugboats and pilot boats in the most efficient manner. This has reduced the total distance travelled during towing and piloting operations by 20% and average waiting times for incoming vessels from 2.4 hours to just 30.6 minutes.

However, AI can be safety-critical in port and shipping operations, and careful training and algorithm development is crucial to ensuring it is reliable and compatible with the sector. The right question is not whether to use AI but rather how to make the right decisions to adapt AI-enabled solutions, making them safe and secure. The development and training of the algorithms are critical and require a “reality check” to refine the responses continually and adapt them to the port’s specific operations and constraints.

Going forward, as ships become powered by different fuel types and clean technologies, AI will become even more critical in optimising berth management. The potential of AI to support smarter and greener supply chains in the maritime sector is undeniable, but developing an understanding of the technology is vital to ensure AI is trained and used wisely.

In conclusion, while AI can offer significant benefits to ports and shipping operations, it must be approached with caution. The focus must remain on reliable outcomes, and we must continue to develop our understanding and use AI wisely to ensure it is compatible with this safety-critical industry.

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