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Re-defining the sustainability of commercial shipping


University of Southampton provided Theyr with expertise in best-in-class genetic algorithms and optimisation to exploit increasingly higher fidelity satellite data.

The latest International Marine Organisation (IMO) regulations compelled the shipping industry to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the start of 2020, which in turn has led to a major increase in the cost of compliant fuels. These latest regulatory requirements continue to fuel the digital revolution within the industry, facilitating the transition to a greener future.

To enable a cleaner future for commercial shipping, London-based software company, Theyr has worked on the development of an industry-leading marine vessel routing application.

Theyr specialises in high-fidelity metocean data and the mechanisms for the analysis, delivery and visualisation of this data via third-party and in-house applications.

SPRINT provides access to university expertise

To support the development of this novel application, Theyr signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to collaborate with SPRINT partner, the University of Southampton.

The University of Southampton provided Theyr with expertise in best-in-class genetic algorithms and optimisation to exploit increasingly higher fidelity satellite data. Theyr also used the University of Southampton’s IRIDIS5 supercomputer, the UK’s largest academic supercomputer, to speed up the verification process.

The SPRINT project focused on the real-time exploitation of space data used in the development of voyage optimisation solutions for commercial vessels. The project combined the very latest in high fidelity metocean forecast data with leading edge genetic algorithms to create a route optimisation module that will produce the most efficient routes for vessels and reduce GHG emissions.

Delivering the T-VOS solution

The resulting solution was T-VOS – a modular voyage optimisation engine for the maritime industry that predicts a ship’s performance in various sea states and meteorological conditions. T-VOS is currently optimising for time, fuel, time charter equivalence and emissions. It is a solution integrated with navigation rules; including traffic separation schemes, port/pilot entries and other optimisation restraints.

During the optimisation process, multiple routes are produced simultaneously. The final output is provided as a set of waypoints, from starting point A to end point B, with the corresponding speed-over-ground (SOG) of the ship provided at each waypoint. Currently, the routing is designed from pilot station-to-pilot station, a future release, including berth-to-berth is planned as well. Routing includes open-sea, traffic separation scheme/channel/canal and near-shore optimisation. High fidelity metocean input conditions include, wind, wave, ocean currents, tidal and bathymetry data are used to both determine the overall fuel consumption of the voyage, increase safety and reduce emissions. the unique flexibility of Theyr’s T-VOS engine provides for the possibility to implement any third-party power prediction model.

The voyage is optimised for the total fuel consumption (cost of travel), time charter equivalent and the estimated time of arrival (ETA) while maintaining safety of the passage. The T-VOS API allows the user to programmatically access route, vessel, and voyage-related information; and to view and compare computed routes.

Benefits achieved through the SPRINT support included:

  • After the SPRINT project completed, Theyr recruited one extra person in the role of Senior Applied Scientist AI and hired the University’s Principal Investigator, Dr Adam Sobey as a non-executive director
  • The SPRINT project helped the early development stage of T-VOS which recently resulted in Theyr announcing a new collaboration with Euronav NV to integrate the voyage optimisation engine into Euronav’s Fleet Automatic Statistics and Tracking (“FAST”) platform. Theyr’s unique voyage optimisation engine, T-VOS, assists Euronav in the improvement of the overall efficiency of its fleet and ultimately, the reduction of the overall carbon footprint. Read the Theyr press release here.
  • Following benchmarking with shipping companies and digital suite providers, the solution can deliver projected fuel savings from 5-10 per cent
  • These fuel savings could be approximately $17-27 million or 0.1 per cent of global fleet

‘Moving technology beyond limitations’

David Young, CEO of Theyr

David Young, CEO of Theyr said: “Roughly half a billion tonnes of fuel are consumed by commercial shipping and so the opportunity to optimise fuel-efficiency along the best routes, whilst minimising the output of emissions has not been done before and would need us to move technology beyond limitations.

“We have a real focus on voyage optimisation solutions and ocean data, and the SPRINT project combined our expertise with the substantial knowledge and resources of the University of Southampton. This helped us to facilitate the future sustainability of commercial shipping by effectively reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions within the industry through the use of AI and high-fidelity metocean data.”

Successful collaboration with University of Southampton

Dr Adam Sobey, University of Southampton

Dr Adam Sobey, Associate Professor in the Maritime Engineering Group at the University of Southampton and co-lead of the marine and maritime group in the Data-Centric Engineering programme at The Alan Turing Institute, added: “This project exploits the very latest in AI through a genetic algorithm developed by my team at the University of Southampton and which shows leading performance on a range of optimisation problems.

“We have developed a set of algorithms that increased the fidelity of data that we can use and the range over which we optimised. This future proofs the software against these increases in fidelity and provides leading performance over competitor software.”

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