Japanese shipping company NYK has conducted the world’s first maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) trial, making a big step toward realizing its target of manned autonomous ships for safer operations and reducing crew workload.
As informed, Iris Leader, an NYK-operated pure car truck carrier (PCTC), was navigated day and night using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR) navigation system.
The first part of the trial was conducted during the ship’s voyage from Xinsha, China, to the port of Nagoya, Japan, from September 14 to 17, 2019, and the second from the port of Nagoya to the port of Yokohama, Japan, from September 19 to 20. The vessel’s crew performed typical duties during the navigations, which included Japan’s coastal area but excluded bays.
During the trial which was carried out in line with the IMO guidelines for MASS trials, the SSR’s performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as the system collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from existing navigational devices, calculated collision risk, determined optimal routes and speeds, and then automatically navigated the ship.
“Using data and experience gained through this trial but not obtainable through onshore simulators, NYK was able to ensure the feasibility of the SSR and its benefit for safe and optimal operations,” the company explained.
Video Courtesy: NYK
NYK now plans to analyze the data and continue to develop the SSR into a more advanced navigation-support system by making adjustments to the difference between the optimal course derived by the program and that determined by professional human judgment.
The SSR verified by this trial would also be applied to future coastal ships, which currently face serious crew shortages, according to the company.