Groke Technologies has announced that it has secured new funding from Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing (SMFL), which has become the latest investor into the autonomous vessel systems business.
Japanese leasing company SMFL provides financing services to the maritime sector. The investment in Groke is part of a strategy that will see SMFL lease Groke’s intelligent navigation system technologies to increase its presence in the domestic coastal shipping and fishing sectors, and, in the future, to build its autonomous vessel business.
Finland-based start-up Groke launched in 2019 with the goal of designing and manufacturing technologies related to autonomous vessel operations. The company is currently focusing on the development of an ‘Awareness System’ to monitor a ship’s surroundings and provide alerts to the crew and captain.
Groke says that it aims to commercialise the system in 2021 and start selling it in 2022.
The company announced earlier investment from dry bulk owner and operator Oldendorff Carriers in August of this year, alongside original investor Mitsubishi Corporation. Groke also revealed a partnership agreement with Weathernews in July to collaborate on technology development.
Most recently, Groke was confirmed as a partner in a new Japanese AI-powered navigation R&D project, working with ‘K’ Line, Japan Radio Co (JRC) and YDK Technologies on autonomous vessel infrastructure ahead of at-sea demonstrations in 2023.