Vessel Path Prediction IWT


This research note highlights that Indian inland waterways have not been studied thoroughly and that it has been generally neglected until now. The research notes state that although the proportion of traffic carried through IWT is a fraction of that carried by road and rail, the rapidly increasing importance of river transport cannot be underestimated. This research note also highlights that there are many advantages of investing in IWT in India for example, the diversion of one billion tonne-km of cargo to IWT mode will reduce transport fuel costs by 5 million USD and overall transport costs by USD 9 million. These profits will increase considerably if navigational aids are revamped in the region.

This paper is just a basic study of the species and many such efforts are to be done to preserve the dolphin species. Studying the correlation between trade vessels and dolphins using AIS data and dolphin sightings data will act as a starting step towards educating environmental efforts for conserving this precious species.

Key highlights

● Several problems threaten vessels and the government in waterways like illegal fishing/trading, collisions, pollution, smuggling, piracy, etc.
● Due to the recent technological advancements and data collection methods improving via satellite and terrestrial AIS, surveillance to keep a check on trade ships is possible.
● Generally, anomalous behavior can be classified based on:

○ Speed – Unexplained high speed, too slow, loitering
○ Location – Outside traditional route, zone mismatch to activity, infringing a closed zone, heading to danger, etc.
○ Track – Positioned for poaching, not heading for port, unusual course shape.

● For Indian inland waterways, due to the neglecting of surveillance and proper collection of AIS Data before 2017, and the high potential of trading in the region the government is looking to invest more in this area and develop resources to promote safe trading practices.

●  There is high flow of water bodies due to concentration of annual monsoon in one quarter of the year causing excessive siltation. Thus, sediment deposition threatens the sustainability from both onsite and off site damages causing enormous costs to the national economy.

Key Challenges

● Data availability: Not much investment has been done by the Indian government in terms of collecting AIS data for the analysis of vessel movement in rivers.
● The uniqueness of each river/waterway: Due to the different channels and water flow directions in each river, it is difficult to prepare one model that works for every river.
● Computation time reduction: This problem of vessel path prediction requires real-time prediction which requires simple models running on powerful machines.

Major Opportunitites

● One of the major opportunities/applications of vessel path prediction is curbing illegal motives in the relatively unexplored Indian inland waterways.
● There have been rampant illegal trades/fishing going on in this region because of little to no surveillance. Also, ship collisions can be prevented by predicting their paths and warning them.
● The other major opportunity is marine mammal protection. This field is also relatively empty for Indian rivers and urgently needs more awareness and investment.
● Preventing poaching activities is also a major step that the government can undertake in collaboration with environmentalists.

“Since we are working in inland waterways, where movement is restricted in a river, these paths must be intelligently derived using a machine learning model. Such an implementation will help greatly reduce the threats presented by vessels to endangered marine mammals.”

Sahil Yadav (Department of Mathematics, BITS Pilani); Dr (Cdr) Arnab Das and Shridhar Prabhuraman (Maritime Research Centre, Pune)