Replacing responsibility with technology

Published on July 6th, 2023

While the Racing Rules of Sailing assign rights during competition, the COLREGS – Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea – are the overriding rules of the road to maintain order among all vessels at sea.

Among the basic tenets are:
• Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

• Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

As boats get faster, and with the growth of single- and doublehanded sailing, these requirements are getting ignored and technology is not yet there to fill the gap. However, one tool that seeks to provide support is SEA.AI, previously known as OSCAR.

This tool is an AI (artificial intelligence) driven masthead camera system (visual light and infrared) that looks in front of the boat and sends images to a box which compares everything it sees with its own database of debris and other objects that are not sea, waves, oil slicks, whitewater, etc.

To enhance the artificial intelligence capabilities of their systems, SEA.AI has partnered with Latitude Blanche, an expert in polar expeditions. This collaborative venture includes a data acquisition campaign conducted aboard the Polarfront vessel, which will traverse polar waters for several months.

The outcomes of this data acquisition campaign will be leveraged to augment SEA.AI’s floating object detection technology for polar waters… such as the southern oceans for round the world races.

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