Marnix Krikke new Chair Port and Maritime Working Group

Published on: 28 September 2021

“In March 2019, I took part in the first sea trials of an autonomous operating system. I watched as a device from a foreign firm on an offshore support vessel determined its own response to other vessels ordered to sail on collision course. Prior to this, extensive tests had been done on the simulator of the Maritime Research Institute Wageningen, which gave us confidence in the safe execution of tests at sea. The device contained self-learning algorithms and was a black box for us. After the tests, we discussed two questions. Where do we stand with knowledge and skills in the field of AI in the maritime domain and how can we better exploit the huge potential of this new technology in the sector?”

Increase efficiency, reduce waste, increase safety

The sea trials were just a small cog in the 4th industrial revolution, which is accelerating in the mostly conservative world of shipbuilding, shipping and port logistics. “We sum up the introduction of far-reaching automation, autonomisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the term Smart Shipping. In recent years, we have caught up in the field of autonomous technology, partly stimulated by the development of small unmanned autonomous vessels. Examples of successful developments are CaptainAI’s intelligent navigation software and Demcon’s unmanned vessels. By developing and testing, we get a better idea of the possibilities and advantages AI offers for the maritime sector. Efficiency improvement in processes is of course paramount to maintain our position in the global market. The technology is also necessary for achieving social goals such as reducing waste, harmful emissions and ensuring safety at sea and on inland waterways. Last but not least, we want to increase the attractiveness of working in the sector by keeping it challenging. The development of technology must go hand in hand with attention to the human experience and ethical issues.

I came into contact with the Port and Maritime working group through the Dutch Smart Shipping Forum, in which maritime organisations and companies share knowledge and experience and stimulate applications in the field of digitalisation. My predecessor, Ilyaz Nasrullah, together with members of the Port and Maritime working group, have produced a position paper entitled “Heading for AI: Maritime ambitions in the field of Artificial Intelligence in the Netherlands“. The paper offers a clear implementation agenda for the maritime domain. It supports the maritime sector across the board with the development and implementation of AI-related technologies. The agenda focuses on pioneering projects and also offers support to companies that are in the early stages of the application of AI. Of course, this is done in close cooperation with other working groups within the coalition, such as Mobility, Transport and Logistics, Technical Industry, Energy and Sustainability, Human Capital and Data Sharing.

Ambition workgroup

“How are we going to do that? In the first place, ensuring that the agenda is given a place in the drafting of call texts in the AiNed investment programme, so that maritime parties find points of departure for project development. Secondly, strengthen the network and share best practices in working group meetings. This should form the basis for the third spearhead: stimulating consortium formation and the development of cooperation projects, with which we want to strengthen our position on the global market.

In the AI programme, much attention is paid to cross-sectoral cooperation. This is important, but it should not become a goal in itself and distract attention from research and development of sectoral applications. I am in favour of introducing technology and knowledge from outside the sector into sector-oriented applied research. This infusion accelerates development and in turn stimulates development in other sectors. And of course I support fundamental research on more generic themes such as data security. I hope to achieve visible results with the working group in the coming period and look forward to good cooperation with colleagues within the coalition.”


Are you interested in this theme? Take a look at our use cases from the port-maritime sector. Or become a participant of the NL AIC and benefit from the knowledge and network around Port and Maritime and other relevant AI themes. For more information about the working group, please visit this page.

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