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LR - investment for offshore safety technology

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lloyd's Register Foundation is exploring ways that the venture capital technology investment model can develop new technology to improve offshore safety.

Lloyd's Register Foundation, the charity arm of Lloyd's Register Group, is exploring ways to use the venture capital model to support the development of technology to improve offshore safety.

Its project involves finding offshore operating companies with challenges which advanced digital technology might be able to help with, and then sought technology companies which might be able to help. An event was held in London on November 28, bringing together the challenges with the possible solutions.

The four challenges, presented at the event, were to reduce the risk of falling objects on a drilling rig; to reduce the number of safety incidents on a vessel caused by bad decisions; to determine the mental health of the master of a vessel and the crew; and to detect errors made by mobile workers.

The challenges were presented by Per Lund, CTO, Odfjell Drilling; Fletcher Martins, Marine Operations Coordinator, Scorpio Group; Captain Chuxing Peng, Assistant GM, QSSD, Fleet Division, Pacific International Lines; and Inge Alme, Executive Vice President HSEQ and Development, Infratek.

The winners were promised support from both Lloyd's Register Foundation and Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley venture capital company, which claims to be the most active VC firm in Silicon Valley based on number of deals.

Falling objects

Per Lund, CTO, Odfjell Drilling, presented the first challenge, reducing the risk of falling objects on a drilling rig. He said that drilling rigs are getting more and more complex, which can mean there are more different items with the potential to come loose. There are still people working on the rig floors, who can be hurt by something falling on them.

Potential solutions were presented by Cogniac, InstaDeep and SmartVid.io. All three companies offered software which can analyse images, and be trained to spot situations which might indicate a risk.

Cogniac claims to be able to train a system to identify images with just 50 images, so it can be trained faster to do specific visual inspection tasks. For example, if a common cause of dropped objects is floodlights with a damaged bolt, the software can be trained to examine photos of bolts to look for damage.

Cogniac can build an 'inspection workflow', where photos which might show a problem can be passed onto a person.

InstaDeep is developing tools to detect anomalous situations. The company suggests looking for problems with corrosion, vibration, extreme weather, or equipment installed in the wrong place, as potential causes of dropped objects. The system can identify these problems from analysing photographs, and also identify how long the problem has been in place, and how many people have been in the vicinity.

SmartVid.io, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is analyses video for construction and capital projects, aiming to give insights to safety managers. For example, it might spot that someone is not wearing a hard hat, or count the flow of people going onto the site. The photos can be gathered with mobile apps.

Dangerous decisions

Scorpio Ship Management, an operator of tankers, bulk carriers, gas carriers and car carriers, is looking for ways to improve decision making made by seafarers, or more specifically, to reduce the number of accidents caused by poor decisions.

Investigations after accidents often end up by discovering that someone with a good track record made a bad decision - but nobody knows why that decision was made.

Potential solutions were presented by Contiamo, Hala Systems and fuseAware.

The Contiamo presenter noted that machine learning models are usually based on around 10,000 data points a day - so it would be hard to use machine learning in this case, for a company which has 15 accidents reports a year. However if safety reports could be gathered from many different shipping companies it may be more possible.

Hala Systems makes software which can find correlations in data for safety purposes, used in aviation. One application is analysing aircraft flight data, to warn people in Syria of aircraft which might be headed in their direction carrying bombs, and give people much more notice of an impending attack.

Mental health

Captain Chuxing Peng, Assistant GM, QSSD, Fleet Division, Pacific International Lines, a container shipping company based in Singapore with around 150 vessels, said that accident investigations often conclude that that there is a factor affecting the mental health of the seafarer.

Or more specifically, the accident was due to a 'lack of situation awareness by the person concerned,' although the person was competent.

'If they were psychologically sound the problem could be avoided,' he said.

For example, they may have received bad news from their family, which is taking their mind off their work, or just did not rest when they were supposed to be resting.

Understanding someone's psychological health should be more than just asking them 'how are you,' he said.

Potential solutions to the problem were presented by Emotion Research Lab, Senseye, Stroma Vision and Aveling.

Senseye of Austin, Texas, is researching ways our inner feelings might be reflected in changes in the 3,000 muscle fibres in our eyes, and this may be a pathway to a solution.

CEO David Zakaria said that the US Air Force has used the company's research, and as a result, managed to reduce training for pilots from 12-15 months to 6 months, by being able to detect how relaxed a pilot is with a certain task, or if they need further training.

So far the company has 'biomarked' 5 percent of the 3,000 iris muscles, he said. Factors that can be detected including people's stress, cognitive load (how hard they are thinking), hormones and memory. Perhaps it will be possible to detect a range of emotions, including anger, surprise, fear, disgust, sadness and happiness.

The relationship between mood and iris muscles is similar for just about everyone. The exceptions are for someone who is a 'true psychopath', where the readings don't look the same, but you can use it to detect psychopathy. Also if someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the iris muscle movements are more sporadic.

The system can work even on a blind person, because 'the connection between iris muscle and brain is different to connection between iris muscle and visual cortex,' he said.

Aveling is developing systems which can understand people's psychological and emotional health, but based on internal factors, not from scanning faces. For example someone's saliva could be examined for higher than usual Cortisol levels, indicating higher stress.

Jason Eden from Aveling, who also runs a company called Sleep and Fatigue Research Ltd, notes the marine jobs 'are some of the most stressful in the world.' And one person's psychological health affects the safety of everyone else on board. 'It is vital to know when someone is not fit for duty.'

Mr Eden was formerly head of risk management and air safety with (UK) Royal Air Force Northolt, after serving for 6 years as a RAF pilot. He says that the idea for his work on sleep research grew from seeing how dangerous sleep deprived pilots can be.

His research shows that 96 per cent of people need at least 7.5 hours sleep, and 'if you don't get that regularly you'll have a problem.'

'Some people can get by on 5 hours - but you are more likely to get struck by lightning than to get that gene.'

Stroma Vision of Chicago has developed facial monitoring technology designed for vehicle drivers, continually scanning the driver's face. The device costs $199 plus a small monthly fee. It has sold $120k worth of devices between May 18 and Nov 18. The service could prove particularly applicable to fleet operators, who want to see how their drivers compare.

Errors by mobile workers

Infratek, a Norwegian company which provides services for critical infrastructure such as power grids, rail, lighting and heating systems, is looking for ways to quickly spot mistakes made by its mobile workers.

Mistakes can lead to safety hazards for future workers, and make maintenance more difficult, said Inge Alme, Executive Vice President HSEQ and Development, Infratek.

Potential solutions were presented by Numberboost, Cogniac and SmartVid.io.

Numberboost, from Cape Town, presented its image analysis system. It has built systems for the mining industry to detect trucks which are on the wrong road. It has also built a system for supporting vehicle inspection.

A photographer takes 9 photos of specific parts of the vehicle, including the license disks, which are then uploaded to a system. The software can choose photos to be further inspected by a manager in a central office. It has developed a system for reading the labelling on cables using a photograph.



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