Japanese project will demo autonomous berthing and unberthing

Initial demonstration will involve training ship Shioji Maru Initial demonstration will involve training ship Shioji Maru

AUGUST 3, 2018 — Autonomous ship berthing and unberthing are to be trialed by a Japanese group that includes Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) and Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMST) and Mitsui Zosen's Akishima Laboratories.

The auto berthing and unberthing project is being carried out under the auspices of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT).

"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," says MOL. "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."

Berthing and unberthing are some of the most difficult phases of ship operation. The demonstration project will identify technical issues by demonstrating autonomous operation with a real vessel and studying ways to achieve its practical use.

In this fiscal year, the demonstration test will be conducted by using the TUMST training ship Shioji Maru, with a test planned for the next fiscal year that will use a large-size ship in a domestic ferry service.

In addition to demonstration tests of auto berthing and un-berthing, project members also plan to conduct tests of remote monitoring and auto collision avoidance.

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