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Why AI Is the Answer to Oil Spills

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly common part of business across many industries. You’ve likely heard of AI’s potential in areas like factory automation and data analysis, but it doesn’t end there. It may be the solution to preventing and responding to disasters like oil spills.

Oil spills don’t happen often, but when they do, the results can be disastrous. You most likely remember the 2010 BP oil spill, which affected wildlife across 1,000 miles of shoreline and killed 11 people. AI can help prevent these disasters and improve responses if they do occur.

Preventing Human Error

As you’ve doubtlessly heard time and time again, people make mistakes. Human error is the leading cause of maritime accidents, which can lead to oil spills. One of the most enticing benefits of AI is that it reduces the risk of these errors.

Just as assisted driving in cars can prevent collisions, AI navigational systems in ships can prevent maritime crashes. It may be a few years before you see fully autonomous tankers, but AI equips them with better navigational information. Using the insights offered by these systems, crews can steer their ships clear of any obstacles and avoid oil leakages.

Improving Response Times

If an oil spill does occur, AI can still provide valuable services. One of the most critical factors in minimizing damage in an accident is responding as quickly as possible. AI systems offer a faster and more accurate way of detecting oil spills, enabling teams to take action sooner.

AI-fueled applications like predictive analytics can alert companies to imminent oil spills before they even happen. Even if it doesn’t predict an incident, quick detection is still essential and not always possible with traditional monitoring tools. Oil spills can occur deep underwater and away from people, so automated systems are necessary for quick detection.

Protecting Oil Spill Responders

Oil spills aren’t just hazardous to the environment. They can be dangerous for humans, too. Spills present a variety of risks, including carcinogens, volatile or flammable materials and respiratory threats. AI systems can measure the risks while keeping humans at a safe distance, ensuring the safety of response teams.

With traditional tools, responders may have to get close to the dangers just to see what they are. AI can monitor the environment and determine these risks without putting people at risk. Using these readings, response teams can then equip themselves appropriately to address the situation safely.

Automation Can Save Lives

In 2019, there were only three oil spills of 7 tons or more, the lowest record in 50 years. Despite this positive trend, those spills still accounted for 700 tons of oil leaking into the environment. Any discharge is a serious issue, so AI’s potential in avoiding and responding to them is critical.

When it comes to these incidents, AI doesn’t just represent financial gain, but also a chance to save lives. By implementing AI systems in these areas, companies can protect the lives of human workers and marine wildlife. It’s the answer to oil spills — a lifesaving one.

About the Author

Caleb Danziger writes about big data, AI, cloud computing and the IoT. Read more from Caleb on The Byte Beat, his tech blog.

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