British firm Robosys Automation Limited has launched the latest version of Voyager 100, an artificial intelligence software that could allow bridge watchkeepers to control ships and improve safety, at Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) Wageningen.

Deemed the “junior officer of the watch” by the autonomous control platform provider, the Voyager 100 software is installed in the bridge and is designed to “improve safety, intelligent capability and manpower assistance”, according to the company, allowing bridge watchkeepers to complete other tasks while supervising Voyager 100.

The latest version of the Voyager 100 is available in two forms. The first one is SmartCaptain, an advisory system offering a basic Decision Aid to achieve safer navigation and collision avoidance when sailing through busy waters.

Secondly, SmartPilot is linked to the ship’s autopilot and propulsion system and can manoeuvre the vessel on behalf of the crew, who can choose to take over complete control instantly if required.

Robosys Automation said that Voyager 100 can be installed in existing vessels, making it more cost-effective for shipowners. A typical installation takes seven working days, it said.

Commenting on the launch, Robosys CEO Aditya Nawab said that the software will not substitute workers but rather support them. He said: “Voyager 100 does not aim to replace crew – they are essential to the modern ship and in short supply, so we need to use them wisely. Voyager 100 allows the bridge crew to multitask safely, whilst providing a steady hand on the helm.”

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Speaking to Ship Technology, Robosys Automation COO Richard Farrington CBE says that “the Voyager 100 system will identify a potential discrepancy between a radar input and the AIS (Automatic Identification of Ships) feed, flag this up to the onboard crew and keep the vessel safe until the conflict is resolved”.

“All this leads to greater elements of safety,” Farrington adds.

Highlighting the benefits of using modern technologies, he says that: “There is a widely recognised shortage of manpower in the marine industry in general and this software will help with the recruitment and retaining of valuable people who will be more likely to stay at sea if some of the stress and pressure is removed.”

To further enhance both versions of the Voyager 100 series, Robosys has developed a new Human Machine Interface, which it will launch at the MARIN facilities at the end of this month.

Robosys Automation is already working in collaboration with MARIN and is one of a consortium of sixteen Dutch and European organisations engaged in the Netherlands Joint Industry Project on Autonomous Shipping.

Another software offered by Robosys includes the Voyager 300 which facilitates remote piloting and “can transform an existing vessel into a fully autonomous vessel, capable of independent navigation and collision avoidance”, the firm said in a statement.