- The ‘5G Maritime’ port trial is a geolocalisation pilot trial that features a pioneering technological solution combining artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 5G and edge computing
- This solution will offer information on vessel location to complement data provided by the identification systems currently used by the control tower
- The project, which is part of the 5G Barcelona initiative and has been promoted by the Port of Barcelona with the support of the Ministry for Digital Policy of the Regional Government of Catalonia, brings together leading technological partners in their respective fields, such as IBM, Vodafone, Huawei, Mobile World Capital Barcelona and the i2CAT Foundation
In July, the Port of Barcelona initiated the ‘5G Maritime’ pilot trial, a project intended to track ships in real time and with pinpoint accuracy, and to yield data and images that will complement the information of the port’s current geolocalisation systems (AIS automatic tracking system and radar). The pilot trial is based on pioneering technology that combines artificial intelligence and cloud computing with edge computing technology (computing processes performed at the edge of the network closest to the user in order to avoid sending massive data volumes and processing them on distant servers or data centres, thus reducing latency considerably and improving bandwidth consumption) and ultrafast and low-latency communications with the commercial 5G network.
Around 9,000 ships per year anchor in the Port of Barcelona. These are vessels of highly diverse natures and sizes and some can measure up to 400 metres in length (about twice the length of a football pitch). Having very accurate information in real time on their movements and geolocalisation is crucial, not only to optimise the port’s mooring space, but also to offer maximum safety both to ships and to port services when manoeuvring.
‘5G Maritime’ arose with a view to helping the Port of Barcelona to optimise management of sea traffic and to improve safety and sustainability, based on complete information about ships, their location and the actions of different port services. This project, which is part of the 5G Barcelona initiative, is being implemented by the Port of Barcelona, IBM, Vodafone, Huawei, Mobile World Capital Barcelona and the i2CAT Foundation, and has the support of the Ministry for Digital Policy of the Regional Government of Catalonia within the 5G Strategy of Catalonia.
The technological solution offers bow and stern geolocalisation and high-accuracy indication of ship movement, thus facilitating remote navigation assistance. It will provide ships’ pilots with accurate information of value for the operations of bringing vessels into the port and mooring them, such as the location of the different ships navigating the docks of the Port of Barcelona, or the course and even the speed of their own ship. This is all based on video analysis from 5G cameras installed throughout the port compound.
The project was presented this morning by Jordi Puigneró, Minister for Digital Policy and Public Administration of the Regional Government of Catalonia; Mercè Conesa, President of the Port of Barcelona; Marc Estapé, Director of IBM Catalonia and the Balearics; Laura Molist, Regional Director of Vodafone in Catalonia and Aragon; Eduard Martín, 5G Director of Mobile World Capital Barcelona and CEO of 5G Barcelona; and Vicente Zhong, Regional Director for the North and East of Huawei Spain.
At the event, Jordi Puigneró, Minister for Digital Policy, stressed “the importance of this project associated with one of the country’s prime infrastructures and with a sector like logistics, which is also crucial for the economy of Catalonia. It is part of the Catalan Government’s 5G Strategy and part of our alliance with the Port of Barcelona addressed to speeding up its digitalisation and turning it into a benchmark SmartPort”. The Minister added that “projects such as this enable us to anticipate the impact of 5G and other advanced technologies on different areas of our society and are driving forces for the reactivation and revitalisation of the Catalan economy based on the promotion of a new technological industry and, particularly, new jobs”.
Eduard Martín, 5G Director of Mobile World Capital Barcelona and CEO of 5G Barcelona, meanwhile explained that “this is a pioneering pilot trial in logistics in which the application of 5G in port environments will help to improve and to automate processes and will increase the safety and efficiency of these operations”.
Marc Estapé, Director of IBM Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, also commented that “the combination of artificial intelligence with edge computing and cloud technologies in an ultra-fast communications environment makes this pilot trial a pioneer in the sector. It will provide us with high levels of accuracy in recognising port images, which will be accompanied by a consequent increase in optimisation”.
Laura Molist, Regional Director of Vodafone in Catalonia and Aragon, likewise stated that “public-private collaboration is essential for speeding up the development of 5G use cases, like the one presented today, as it combines the private sector’s high-level knowledge and efficiency with public sector interests to develop a powerful digital ecosystem adapted to new technologies”.
Vicente Zhong, Regional Director for the North and East of Huawei Spain, explained that “Huawei is proud to be taking part in this 5G innovation project in the Port of Barcelona, to which we have provided our technological knowledge and R&D capabilities to contribute to the digitisation of Catalonia”. This ‘Maritime’ project is certainly a clear example of how 5G technology and artificial intelligence will play a key role in this fourth industrial revolution”.
Lastly, Mercè Conesa, President of the Port of Barcelona, explained that “having a network of 5G technology connected cameras would represent significant progress in terms of safety for sea traffic in the Port of Barcelona. It would not only help us to improve safety and prevention in the port compound, which is of vital importance, but would also help us to optimise the management of our docks, while streamlining the daily work all port services -pilotage, tug operation, mooring-”.
Pioneering technical deployment
The technological solution comprises the following elements:
- An artificial intelligence model -IBM Maximo Visual Insights-, created by IBM and trained in IBM Cloud to recognise ships, their bows and their sterns.
- Two sets of Huawei high-performance cameras and 5G terminals located in the port. These capture the entry of ships in real time.
- Ultra-fast, low-latency communications provided by Vodafone’s commercial 5G network. These transmit images to the server, where the AI model is run on the images received, which it recognises and interprets.
The artificial intelligence model is distributed to a server located in the port’s control tower using IBM edge computing technologies – IBM Edge Application. A geolocalisation algorithm then translates the pixels from the images into geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude. These geolocalisation data are lastly integrated with the Port’s other systems. The Port of Barcelona therefore obtains both more accurate and real-time information on the location of ships.