Tel Aviv’s Orca AI, a computer vision startup that can be retrofitted to cargo ships and improve navigation and collision avoidance, has raised $13 million in a Series A funding, taking its total raised to over $15.5 million. While most cargo ships carry security cameras, computer vision cameras are rare. Orca AI hopes its solution could introduce autonomous guidance to vessels already at sea.
There are more than 4,000 annual marine incidents, largely due to human error. The company says this is getting worse as the coronavirus pandemic makes it harder for regular crew changes. The recent events in the Suez Canal have highlighted how crucial this industry is.
The funding round was led by OCV Partners, with principal Zohar Loshitzer joining Orca AI’s board. Mizmaa Ventures and Playfair Capital also participated.
The company was founded by naval technology experts Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv. The latter is a former Israel navy computer vision expert. Customers include Kirby, Ray Car Carriers and NYK.
Orca AI’s AI-based navigation and vessel tracking system supports ships in difficult to tricky to navigate situations and congested waterways, using vision sensors, thermal and low-light cameras, plus algorithms that look at the environment and alert crews to dangerous situations.
On the raise, Yarden Gross, CEO and co-founder said: “The maritime industry… is still far behind aviation with technological innovations. Ships deal with increasingly congested waterways, severe weather and low-visibility conditions creating difficult navigation experiences with often expensive cargo… Our solution provides unique insight and data to any ship in the world, helping to reduce these challenging situations and collisions in the future.”
Zohar Loshitzer, principal from OCV added: “Commercial shipping has historically been a highly regulated and traditional industry. However, we are now “witnessing a positive change in the adoption of tech solutions to increase safety and efficiency.