Unmanned Ship Demo Completed in Japan

A consortium has concluded a pilot project with the aim to establish the technology for unmanned ship operations — the proof of concept.

A consortium consisting of Marubeni Corporation, Tryangle, Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, and the City of Yokosuka has concluded a pilot project with the aim to establish the technology for unmanned ship operations — the proof of concept.

In February 2020, the consortium applied to and secured a place in the Joint Technological Development Programme for the Demonstration of Unmanned Ships – MEGURI2040 led by The Nippon Foundation.

Proof of Concept

As informed, the proof of concept has been successfully completed in a voyage route between NewMikasa Pier and Sarushima Island in Yokosuka City. Particularly, the ship operations, including berthing, were fully automatic using an existing small-sized passenger boat.

Additionally, Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding has developed autonomous ship technology on an existing small-sized passenger boat owned and operated by Tryangle. Thus, the technology has achieved fully unmanned ship operations including unberthing, navigation, collision avoidance, and berthing.

Unmanned Ship voyage

According to the consortium members, the implementation of this autonomous ship technology from the proof of concept will expectedly reduce the workload of the ship crew while enhancing operational safety.

Note that the contributing parties intend to use this technology and experience “to effectively help contribute to a safe and sustainable society”.

Role of each company in the consortium
  • Marubeni
    The consortium leader as a project manager. It monitors the schedule of the project as well as issues arising during the pilot project. After the completion, Marubeni will try to commercialise the business of autonomous ships domestically as well as internationally.
  • Tryangle
    The owner and operator of the concept ship, supporting the autonomous operation of the vessel retro-fitted with the technology.
  • Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding
    Developing and providing key elements including autonomous ship technology and automated berthing technologies. Developing the retro-fittable technology for a small craft, which tends to be difficult to maneuver precisely.
  • City of Yokosuka
    Providing the administrative support under the framework of the “Yokosuka × Smart Mobility Challenge”. The collective initiatives to solve local issues through collaboration among the public, academic and private sectors.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Norwegian fertilizer firm Yara International has launched a fully-electric and autonomous vessel. Namely, Yara Birkeland has completed its maiden voyage in the Oslo fjord.

Source: Marubeni