While everyone focuses on autonomous cars, Shone is working on standalone technologies for container ships. The start-up does not want to turn these giant ships into unmanned vehicles, but it wants to help the seafarers and make the ships more efficient.
After attending Y Combinator, Shone recently raised $ 4 million from Alven, Liquid 2, Paul Graham, David Marcus and D. Scott Phoenix.
"The basic idea is that autonomous ships are coming in. Overall, it seems inevitable," said co-founder and CEO Ugo Vollmer. "And yet, there is another 25 people on the boat and it works on Windows. "
The team spent a lot of time talking with people from the shipping industry to understand their needs. After traveling on container ships and buying a small boat for prototyping, Shone is already working with a shipping company to upgrade their vessels with their technology.
"Our vision is that it will be done gradually," said Vollmer. "There will be a lot of navigation systems first."
At first this could reduce the number of people on the boat. There are about 15 people who maintain the engine and machinery. These people will not leave soon. But there are also about ten people who monitor the radar, on the various tools and also on the sea itself. They shoot as they need to have a small team in the cabin 24/7.
This second team might need help, and that's where Shone shines. The commissioning adds some sensors but especially increases their system to existing sensors. While there is already a ton of sensors, none of them is communicating together.
Shone can combine all these data and analyze them to give an overview. Finally, the startup plans to recommend different courses to save fuel and time. The existing autopilot solutions on ships are more like cruise control in cars. You can follow a predetermined path, but you can not say "let's go from A to B".
And saving fuel is key when it comes to global warning. Each ship carries a mountain of goods, so it's quite effective when you think about the impact of a ton of goods. But if you can make a container ship a little more efficient, it will have a huge impact on the environment.
"If you can do a 1% optimization, you have a bigger impact than Tesla today," Vollmer said. It's hard to compare these two things, because cars and boats are different animals.
For now, Shone focuses only on the deep sea. Either way, the crew does not handle the first and last kilometer since any of the port usually comes on board to guide you to the dock.
Shone signed a partnership with CMA CGM to collect data and add hardware devices. It is still early for Shone, as the company focuses first on situational awareness before going further in recommendations.