NIPPON Yusen Kaisha has invested in artificial intelligence technology company Ghelia to conduct research into autonomous ships.

NYK said the investment and partnership deal would also promote digital transformation by introducing Ghelia’s technologies to business processes in the company’s sales division and corporate division.

“The shipping industry has recently seen a number of requests involving the development and design of digital engineering and digital twins, the establishment of fully autonomous ship systems, and technological innovation such as next-generation energy for decarbonisation. The same can be said for ensuring safety throughout the process of vessel operation,” NYK said in a statement.

“Under these circumstances, the NYK Group has been strengthening its initiatives in the technological field related to next-generation ships. At the same time, Ghelia has been developing a wider and deeper range of technologies … and crafting them into products and services.”

The alliance agreement will see both companies work to create and use advanced, practical AI services, aiming at leading the global shipping industry and contributing to further expansion of the industry.

NYK executive officer Hideki Suzuki said his company was convinced that the alliance with Ghelia will contribute to further technological development in the shipping industry.

“In the future, we expect to not only practically utilize AI technologies in NYK but also work on creating new value by providing AI services that lead the shipping industry,” he said.

Ghelia president and CEO Makoto Saito said, “Ghelia, which was founded at Sony CSL, has been working with key players in various industries as a cross-border AI solution vendor, to implement AI solutions in customers’ business operations. Through this alliance with NYK, a pioneer and a leader in the shipping industry, we will lead the practical application of AI solutions in the shipping industry, where digitisation and implementation of AI are urgently needed on a global level. Together with NYK, we will promote the transformation of this industry.”