SoftBank Ventures Asia, the enterprise arm of Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group, led a $5.8 million spherical in South Korean autonomous navigation startup Seadronix, bringing its complete funding to this point to $8.3 million.

Based in 2015, Seadronix develops AI software program to assist cargo ships navigate with minimal involvement from sailors, just like autonomous vehicles. The corporate’s two principal merchandise embody a monitoring system to assist giant vessels berth at docks and a separate monitoring system to assist vessels navigate in open waters, at the moment working in 4 ports throughout Korea.

“Our mission is to be an AI platform that ensures the security and environmental safety of the ocean,” mentioned Byeolteo Park, cofounder and CEO of Seadronix, in an announcement. “With this funding, we hope to recruit extra abilities in AI and sensor fusion and navigation, and speed up our world market penetration plan.”

Seadronix’s proprietary techniques might clear up 75% of maritime accidents that stem from “human errors and environmental points,” comparable to carbon dioxide leaks that may trigger deadly explosions, based on the startup.

The autonomous delivery business in Asia has seen a wave of funding over the previous few years, dovetailing with a world push in direction of “smarter” autonomous transportation. Toyota AI Ventures, for instance, launched a $100 million fund in 2019 for autonomous mobility, protecting the delivery business with an funding in Singapore-based Sea Machines.

Final August, Boston Consulting Group’s innovation arm, BCG Digital Ventures, invested in three Singapore-based maritime tech startups. Quest Ventures, additionally primarily based within the city-state, launched a $7.5 million maritime expertise fund final yr, in collaboration with Singapore-based ShipsFocus.

Based in 2000, SoftBank Ventures Asia has roughly $1.8 billion in belongings beneath administration, spanning over 300 corporations, specializing in “ICT investments” comparable to AI, IoT and good robotics.

Final December, SoftBank Ventures Asia invested $150 million in metaverse platform Zepeto, operated by Naver Z, a unit of Korean billionaire Lee Hae-jin’s web big Naver.