Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), the tech giant’s fundamental and applied research arm in the Asia-Pacific region, has partnered with Hong Kong container shipping firm Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) to put artificial intelligence (AI) to use in the shipping industry.
The collaboration will see MSRA’s AI researchers work to make OOCL’s current shipping activities more efficient using deep and reinforcement learning technologies. Microsoft will also assist the container line in training more than 200 AI engineers by conducting specialized training sessions in Hong Kong over the next year.
According to Steve Siu, OOCL’s chief information officer, the company expects to save roughly US$10m as the result of a recently completed 15-week collaboration with MSRA. The companies’ next research and development venture will last 18 months and will see AI applied to shipping network operations.
OOCL has already made AI part of its vision for digital transformation and has utilized machine learning technologies for several years. For instance, it processes and analyzes over 30 million pieces of vessel data per month. By leveraging AI, it is able to develop predictive analytics on vessel schedules and berth activities.
“Embracing AI is a complex business challenge in digital transformation,” says Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. “MSRA’s AI research experts have joined forces with OOCL to optimize its existing shipping operations using deep and reinforcement learning, an R&D area that needs top AI researchers and domain experts for business impact validation.”