MOL And Mitsui’s Joint Project Of Auto Berthing And Un-Berthing, Auto Collision Avoidance And Remote Monitoring Highly Appreciated

Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES-S), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMST), Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen) Inc. announced that on July 25, their proposed joint demonstration project related to the safety of vessels’ auto berthing and un-berthing was selected for Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT)’s FY2018 autonomous vessel demonstration project.

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Human errors account for 80% of marine accidents, and since automated and autonomous operations of vessels can significantly reduce human errors, they have the potential to make a great contribution to reducing marine accidents. Furthermore, autonomous operations hold great promise in reducing the workload for mariners, and represent a fundamental change in ocean transport. Through this project, MLIT aims to achieve practical use of autonomous vessels by 2025.

(Note: The target year 2025 was set forth in the “Investments for the Future Strategy 2017” approved by the Japanese cabinet in June 2017.)

Berthing and un-berthing are some of the most difficult phases of ship operation, in which autonomous operations would be of great benefit. This auto berthing and un-berthing demonstration project will identify technical issues by demonstrating autonomous operation with a real vessel and study ways to achieve practical use. In this fiscal year, the demonstration test will be conducted by using the training ship of TUMST “Shioji Maru”, and starting next fiscal year, members are planning a test using a large-size ship in a domestic ferry service.

The project will fully utilize each of the members’ technologies and expertise-MOL’s technologies, which aim at reduction of the environmental impact and improvement of safe operation, accumulated in its group’s technology and development project “Senpaku-Ishin NEXT – MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT -;” the MES-S Group’s ship operation control technology, based on an automatic dynamic positioning system of the D/V Chikyu, a riser drilling-equipped science vessel; and TUMST’s academic knowledge and viewpoints related to autonomous ship operation.

Even before this project got underway, MES-S and MOL have already been involved in technology and development of autonomous sailing for practical use with the aim of realizing safer and more reliable ocean transport. In fact, their efforts in this area date back to the Kinkasan Maru (built in 1961). And both companies have stepped up their initiatives by participating in the “R&D project on Autonomous System concept for Sea Transport,” under MLIT’s FY2017 Program for Promoting Technological Development of Transportation. The project focuses on demonstration tests of auto berthing and un-berthing, but the members also plan to conduct their own demonstration tests of remote monitoring and auto collision avoidance. With these initiatives, the project members aim to accelerate the development of a highly practical automated and autonomous ship operation system.

MES-S, MOL, TUMST, and Akishima Laboratory will contribute to the achievement of safe, reliable ocean transportation through activities including the auto berthing and un-berthing demonstration project and other efforts to promote the development of autonomous sailing vessels.

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