Canada’s Ocean Supercluster has announced a trio of new projects worth a combined $17.8 million, including a $12 million funding package led by a Halifax startup aimed at developing berth scheduling AI for ports.

The AI project aims to develop a system dubbed the Collaborative Berth Scheduler, which will help ships and ports collaborate to allocate berth time more effectively. The berth-allocation system will use OCIANA, which is the main platform of Halifax's Global Spatial Technology Systems, or GSTS. The platform can be used for aggregating satellite data, weather data, port data and other sources of tracking information, with the aim of predicting ships’ movements and behavior.

The Supercluster, an organization backed by the federal government that splits the cost of R&D projects with companies, universities, and other organizations, made the announcements at the Oceanology International conference in London.

“On a daily basis we see events that have an impact on vessel routing and schedules,” said GSTS Chief Executive Richard Kolacz in a statement. “These include the Red Sea Crisis, Panama Canal issues, weather events, like hurricanes and labour events such as strikes.

“OCIANA’s novel capability will allow vessels to respond to events and identify optimal routes and arrival times by coordinating with ports and pilotage authorities thereby reducing emissions, fuel use and transport costs”.

The other members of the berth-scheduling project are Montreal-based Canada Steamship Lines, along with industry group Clear Seas, the Port of Montreal and the Laurentian Pilotage Authority. The Supercluster will contribute $5 million toward the project. 

Also announced at Oceanology were the $3.2 million Aids to Navigation project, which will develop technology to modernize navigation buoys, and the $2.6 million OceanAI Navigator project, which is slated to help shipping companies manage their fleet operations, such as by reducing fuel consumption.

The Aids to Navigation project, meanwhile, is being led by Victoria, BC’s DSA Ocean, with Saint John-based Go Deep International joining as the only other partner. The Supercluster is contributing up to $1.2 million to the project, which will focus  on developing “tailored” solutions for potential large clients, such as the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards.

And the OceanAI Navigator project is led by CORSphere Software of St. John’s, with Halifax’s Leeway Marine and industry group Energy Research & Innovation Newfoundland and Labrador. The project will receive $950,000 from the Supercluster. They plan to make their AI easy to integrate with existing fleet management software, with a focus on lowering fuel consumption and predicting maintenance needs.