China’s AI unicorn SenseTime allies with Japan’s MOL to prevent ship collisions

One step forward to commercialize SenseTime’s tech in real-world applications.

Photo: SenseTime

China’s artificial intelligence (AI) unicorn SenseTime has entered into a cooperation with Mitsui O.S.K Lines (MOL), Japan’s largest shipping company, to develop and keep updating an image recognition and recording system aimed at preventing ships collisions, according to a post on the Chinese company’s official WeChat account on Thursday.

The system will assist ships’ captains to identify smaller vessels or other hidden risks, and will be installed and put on trial first on MOL’s passenger line cruise called Nippon Maru.

This cooperation allows SenseTime to further commercialize its AI technologies in countries beyond its home turf.

The company’s computer vision technologies, including face recognition, video analysis, and character recognition, have been used by companies like Qualcomm, NVIDIA, China Mobile, UnionPay, Huawei, and others.

Identifying real-world applications of AI technologies is a challenge for players in this sector.

SenseTime, with investors including Alibaba, is now valued at more than USD 7.5 billion, the most valuable AI startup in the world, and is in no rush for an IPO, according to its co-founder and CEO Xu Li.

Megvii, SenseTime’s key rival in China, which has filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong, made RMB 949 million (USD 133 million) in total revenues in the first six months of this year, which translated into a net loss of more than RMB 5.2 billion.

Both SenseTime and Megvii have been recently added by the United States to its Entity List over national security concerns, which means these firms must apply for additional licenses to realize commercial transactions with US suppliers.