SoftBank Ventures Asia, the early stage venture capital arm of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group, announced Tuesday its participation in a $5.8 million new funding round of Seadronix, a next-generation, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solution for the maritime industry that develops autonomous navigation and assistant systems in South Korea.

The AI autonomous navigation company will use the funding to recruit talents and expand its global networks, SoftBank Ventures Asia said in a statement.

Seadronix has raised a total of $8.3 million thus far.

“Our mission is to be an AI platform that ensures the safety and environmental protection of the ocean. With this funding, we hope to recruit more talents in AI/sensor fusion and navigation and accelerate our global market penetration plan,” said Byeolteo Park, Chief Executive Officer of Seadronix.

Founded by autonomous ship researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Seadronix is the leading company developing AI technology specialized in the maritime industry for smart port and autonomous navigation.

The company provides two solutions: AI-based Berthing Monitoring System (AVISS) to assist in the berthing of large vessels and AI-based Around-view Monitoring System (NAVISS) to assist in the navigation of ships.

AVISS is currently in operation at four top ports in Korea, while NAVISS is being adopted by a number of notable shipping carriers, also having provided to Hyundai intelligent Berthing Assistant System (HiBAS).

According to the statement, the autonomous ships market which is estimated to be $85 billion today, is in the global limelight as a megatrend that follows autonomous driving.

As a trailblazer in the industry, Seadronix’s AI- powered solutions may solve 75 percent of today’s maritime accidents that are occurred by human errors and environmental issues such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

Moreover, the emergence of low earth orbit and non-terrestrial networks has enhanced efficient maritime communications and data transfer, accelerating the digitalisation of one of the most traditional sectors such as the maritime industry.

“Seadronix has set an exemplary model in the autonomous navigation market with commercialized AI products and accumulated maritime data. We highly expect Seadronix to lead the global maritime industry by presenting the international standards for autonomous navigation ships,” said Daniel Kang, Senior Partner of SoftBank Ventures Asia.

To date, Seadronix has paved its way to establishing a technological standard in the digital vessel and port industry. Selected as a ‘K-Global 300’ (Ministry of Science and ICT) and a ‘pre-Ocean Star’ (Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries), the company has also received certificates of ‘K-innovative Product’ and ‘New Excellent Technology’ for its cutting-edge solutions backed by more than 30 internet protocols (IPs) patents pending or registered in Korea, United States, and European Union.

Founded in 2000, SoftBank Ventures Asia expertise lies in information and communication technology (ICT) investments including AI, internet of things (IoT), and smart robotics. It looks for early growth-stage start-ups that have strong business potential in the global market and assist them to be plugged into the SoftBank ecosystem by facilitating side-by-side growth.

SoftBank Ventures Asia currently operates approximately $1.8 billion under management, investing in innovative technology start-ups across the world.

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