Japanese tanker operators invest in Groke autonomous tech

Autonomous vessel systems company Groke Technologies has raised new funding from three Japanese tanker operators, with Uyeno Transtech, Tsurumi Sunmarine and Asahi Tanker all making an investment in the firm.

Uyeno Transtech is part of the Uyeno group, which consists of 35 different companies, mainly related to the transportation and storage of petroleum products and chemical products. Uyeno Transtech itself is a tanker operator, with around 70 vessels and over 150 employees.

Tsurumi Sunmarine controls around 150 tankers, chartered in from approximately 100 vessel owners, while Asahi Tanker a subsidiary of MOL (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines) operating a fleet of over 100 vessels, mainly domestic-based.

“We are cooperating in the development of the ‘eyes’ of ships manufactured by Groke in order to build safer systems and to address the issues of seafarer shortage and aging in the domestic shipping industry,” said Uyeno Transtech, in a statement.

“Since 2020, we have installed cameras on our vessels and have taken millions of image data and sent them to Groke. Groke has created a situational awareness system that displays ship information such as position together with other sensors after letting AI learn this and making the other ship including fishing boats image-recognise with a camera.”

The three tanker operators join earlier investors including dry bulk owner and operator Oldendorff Carriers and Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corporation. Finland-based start-up Groke launched in 2019 and 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 start selling the system in 2022.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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