When people are the weakest link
Published on January 18th, 2022
A successful demonstration test of the world’s first fully autonomous ship navigation systems was conducted January 17 on the Iyonada Sea in southwestern Japan. The system was used on a 222-meter ferry with autonomous port berthing and unberthing using turning and reversing movements and high-speed navigation of up to 26 knots.
Other new technologies included in the advanced fully autonomous operation system are sensors to detect other ships using infrared cameras, a remote engine monitoring system, and a sophisticated cyber security system. These advances in fully autonomous ship navigation are seen as a significant step toward safer and more efficient coastal shipping.
Research and development of fully autonomous ship navigation is intended to address maritime issues such as crew shortages and accident prevention. This is also expected to become a “future industry” through which Japan can demonstrate to the world its advanced technologies in areas including ICT, AI, and image analysis technology.
The newly built ferry began navigating with an onboard crew on July 1, 2021, compiling data for the development of a fully autonomous ship navigation system. The autonomous demonstration test was conducted on a 130 nm route from Northern Kyushu to Iyonada, which takes approximately 7 hours, at a maximum speed of 26 knots.