IN THE KNOW Podcast 3: Transas Wants to Change Navigation

Frank Coles (file image courtesy Transas)

Published Mar 18, 2018 1:09 PM by Paul Benecki

[Update: On Monday, technology firm Wärtsilä announced that it is purchasing Transas.]

Transas CEO Frank Coles is one of the industry's most outspoken provocateurs. He questions the methods of the class societies, the P&I clubs, the satcom providers and the IMO. He describes tech skeptics as "citizens against virtually everything." He dismisses the buzz about autonomous ships and promotes technology as a means of support for mariners instead. Today, he's calling for an overhaul of the industry's entire model for maritime operations, and he stands ready to provide the tools - and the satellite service - in one package.

Coles' firm is rolling out new a software and services bundle called "A-Suite," which will be an available option on the latest Transas ECDIS platform beginning in April. A-Suite is not an incremental improvement: it contains two features that could change the way the watchstander interacts with the ship. 

The first, AID, logs all of the actions taken on the bridge. The ship's voyage data recorder already does this, but AID analyzes the data and shares it with the home office so that shoreside staff can give real-time feedback to the bridge team. The second feature, AIM, uses radar, AIS, chart data and historical traffic patterns to forecast how other vessels will maneuver. Based on these predictions, it makes suggestions to the watchstander about when and where to turn. This is not fully autonomous navigation: while the computer is making its own judgements, it is not executing them, and the watchstander retains all legal responsibility for maintaining a lookout and ordering course changes. 

MarEx spoke to Coles about these developments on the sidelines of the Transas Global Conference in Vancouver. For more details, listen in to our conversation (below).

If you are using a mobile device and are having difficulty accessing the embedded audio, please visit the Soundcloud page for this interview by clicking here. To download this podcast for offline listening, right-click on the following link: Frank-Coles-at-Transas-Global-Conference-2018.mp3

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.