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New Zealand: Innovation Nation for Marine Technology

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The ocean has been a natural playground for generations of New Zealanders. New Zealanders are true marine enthusiasts, with over a third of the population participating in boating each year, combined with our undeniable love for the sea.

With the rising tides of technology, the maritime landscape is changing. The emerging trends are the result of necessity. Shipbuilding, propulsion, smart shipping, advanced materials, big data and analytics, robotics, sensors, and communications, combined with an increasingly skilled workforce, are all causing seismic shifts in how the maritime industry is approaching new challenges and opportunities.

For the 37th America’s Cup, one of the marine companies in New Zealand had recently developed a hydrogen-powered chase boat. This would also apply to the 20+ event and race support boats, which will have a significant impact on the event’s consumption of fossil fuels.

The company had included deployed an IT addition – an artificial intelligence (AI) sailor bot which became in effect a virtual sailor. It did vital work on the computer simulator on which the team New Zealand’s winning hydrofoil designs were rigorously tested and proven.

The AI bot simulator was built to help the sailors train before the game. It was also used to run tests on the hydrofoil to see if they worked on the simulator before deploying them on the boat. The final outcome was that the hydrofoil tested on the simulator worked well on water.

AI adoption is increasing in most industries, but capabilities vary. Logistics is beginning to become an AI-driven industry. With the use of AI, there is an excellent potential to improve the maritime industry through quality and speed by eliminating mundane and routine tasks. Some of the most notable advantages of AI in the shipping industry include, but are not limited to, improved decision-making analytics, automation, safety, route optimisation, and increased efficiencies.

The trend of using data as a tool to learn from the past can help to improve decision-making in the future. Data collection via digitalisation has become the most important aspect of the fourth industrial revolution. It has been accompanied by breakthroughs in communication technology that connect vessel operations to global networking. In such an environment cloud computing is becoming the backbone and many important steps have been taken to employ the cloud-based management system to further aid the next generation technological revolution.

Further, as the shipping sector is moving towards automation at a very rapid pace, cloud-based management systems are going to be a significant asset at the operational level. Apart from monitoring shipbuilding projects, cloud computing is being used for autonomous ships.

Autonomous ships will be more than just vessels. They could be data centres transmitting massive amounts of data from various sources such as automatic identification systems, radar and other onboard systems. With so much data flowing at such a high rate, cloud becomes an important element for its management and analysis.

A report indicated that the global maritime analytics market was worth $894.28 million in 2019 and is expected to be worth $1,833.50 million by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 10.0% between 2020 and 2027. The report focuses on the key factors driving market growth, as well as prominent market players and their recent developments.

The industry’s future will be digital, without a doubt. For a long time, the digital evolution has been shaping the marine industry, and it will undoubtedly continue to do so. Shipping companies, both onshore and offshore, will need to digitalise their operations as much as possible in order to operate more efficiently and profitably.

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