Japanese maritime industry finds course in automated navigation

Trials were conducted for the Nippon Foundation-led project between February and March this year. The 749-ton container ship Suzaku made a round trip from Tokyo Port to Tsumatsusaka Port in Mie Prefecture in four days using an automated navigation system.

In automatic navigation systems, artificial intelligence analyzes surrounding vessels and obstacles seen by onboard cameras, then selects the best route for the vessel to navigate without a pilot.

During the trials, the captain and four other crew members were on board in case an unexpected situation arose, and the vessel was constantly monitored by satellite from the Chiba City Shore Support Center. If necessary, the ship could be controlled remotely from the center.

In the end, however, 97% of the 790 kilometer journey was operated by the automated system.

Tokyo Bay, the starting point, and Ise Bay, where the port of Tsumatsusaka is located, are considered to be among the busiest waters in the world.

“We were able to achieve results in difficult channels. This could help Japan become the world leader in the field of unmanned ships,” said Yohei Sasakawa, president of the Nippon Foundation.

The total cost of the project is around 8.8 billion yen and some 50 companies have participated. The goal is to achieve some level of automated navigation by 2025 and achieve fully unmanned navigation by 2040.

High-speed sailing, as well as departure and docking tests were also carried out on small excursion boats and large car ferries.

Comments are closed.