South Korean startup Seadronix wants to reduce the problem of maritime accidents, 75% of which are caused by human error, according to a 2019 Allianz report on safety and shipping. The company just secured a $5.8 million Series A expansion to evolve its AI-based ship berthing monitoring and navigation systems to help cargo ships navigate safely and to help port operators anchor their vehicles at the port.
The new funds, led by SoftBank Ventures Asia, bring Seadronix’s total round to $8.3 million. Seadronix will use the capital to grow its team beyond the current headcount of 30 employees and enter global markets, including Singapore and Europe, where its “smart ports” are located, said Byeolteo Park, CEO and co -founder, in an interview with TechCrunch. .
A smart port uses technologies such as AI, big data, the Internet of Things and 5G to provide more security and save energy by digitizing the way huge ships enter the docks and manage the port logistics. Seadronix claims that some smartports around the world have adopted innovative technologies; for example, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the Port of Hamburg in Germany and the Port of Singapore, but that in general the traditional shipping industry is conservative and resistant to change, which means that it is therefore ripe for disturbances.
“Our mission is to be an AI platform that keeps the ocean safe and environmentally safe,” Park said. “With this funding, we hope to hire more staff for AI, sensor fusion and navigation activities and accelerate our global market penetration plan.”
The startup was founded in December 2015 by three founders: Park, Donghun Kim (co-CTO) and Hankeun Kim (co-CTO). All of the founders previously worked as freelance freighter researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and decided to turn their studies into a business, according to Park.
Seadronix’s AI-based Docking Surveillance System (AVISS) uses vision sensors and lidar to help large vessels dock. Its AI-based Panoramic View Monitoring System (NAVISS), which can be retrofitted to freighters, assists vessels in navigational situations.
Seadronix’s AVISS customers include four ports in South Korea (Incheon, Busan, Ulsan and Yeosu), South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and SK Incheon Petrochem, Park said. In addition, South Korean shipbuilding company Hyundai Heavy Industries uses Seadronix’s NAVISS for its Intelligent Docking Assistant System (HiBAS), he added, noting that it also works with telecommunications because its services require a 5G or 6G connection.
The startup’s target market are global shipbuilders, ship operators, smart port operators or port operators who want to digitize their operation process, according to the company.