Automatic cargo ship to solve coastal logistics, Japan to develop

Fully automated technology has spread to every industry, and now Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan’s largest shipping company, has teamed up with a Japanese company to complete what is billed as the world’s first port to port sea trial of an autonomous cargo ship.Not only did the ship sail completely unmanned from the Japanese port of Tonga to Sakai, near Osaka, a distance of 300 kilometers, but it was the first time that a drone was used instead of a human mooring.The Mikage, a 313-foot automated cargo ship with a capacity of 194 standard containers, was completed in 2015.Automatic navigation technology integrated Japanese consortium technology, automatic navigation technology using Mitsui E&S shipbuilding’s automatic ship operation control system, with reference variables including various external factors such as position information, wind, tide and ocean currents, as well as ship specific information about configuration, maneuverability and acceleration and deceleration capabilities, will operate in accordance with the previously established course judgment.Furuno Electric’s Automatic peripheral information Integration system collects information on other ships and obstacles along the route, using radar, automatic identification systems and lenses to measure and display positions, speeds, types of nearby ships and maps of obstacles and debris.The most challenging part of the automatic voyage is the automatic berthing and departure.Kuno Electric develops a sensor system that uses LiDAR, lens and satellite compass data to compute and visually display accurate relative distances and relative angles of dock and hull berthing and departure.Mooring is also a labor intensive job. Traditionally, a crew member would dock with the ship and pass the mooring line to a dockworker to tie the ship up.But this time the ship could be moored by a drone without a crew.The mooring technology, developed by ALI Technologies, is expected to be powered uav mooring as a viable alternative to human docking.The autonomous cargo ship experiment is part of the Japanese consortium-led MEGURI 2040 unmanned ship project, which has previously completed a fully autonomous high-speed coastal ferry off the coast of Shinmenji, Kitakyushu, Japan. It claims to be the world’s first ferry using fully automated navigation systems, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.Mitsui will also experiment with a fully automated ferry.Coastal shipping is key to Japan’s logistics system, carrying about 40 percent of domestic cargo and 80 percent of basic industrial goods. Given the industry’s heavy reliance on aging ships and the fact that most maritime accidents are caused by human error, the unmanned ship project could solve the problem.The MEGURI 2040 project, launched in 2020, aims to improve safety, reduce crew labor and reduce costs with an automated navigation system, which the Japanese consortium expects to launch in 2025.(Source: Merchant Marine Mitsui)

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