Autonomous Ship Challenges – MOL Conducts Onboard Test

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On September 26, the MOL announced to conduct a demonstration test on a ferry equipped with the Intelligence Awareness System (IAS) along with the U.K.-based Rolls-Royce Marine.

Autonomous ships

The ferry is operated by MOL Group company Ferry Sunflower Co., Ltd., and services Japan’s Seto Inland Sea route.

The company is constantly striving to develop safer and efficient vessel operation while taking a proactive stance on research and development of autonomous ships. Autonomous sailing requires underlying technologies such as advancement and automation of watch keeping, remote and automated ship operation which includes automatic collision avoidance while underway, automatic docking/undocking, remote monitoring of machinery and equipment, cargo, and so on, and automatic telecommunication among vessels. This project focuses on research related to advancement of watch keeping from the bridge.

Demo to test system performance

The project team verified the system’s performance such as detecting debris and other obstacles and its data fusion capabilities by conducting the demonstration test in the Seto Inland Sea, one of the World’s most congested waterways, where general merchant ships, pleasure boats, fishing boats and many other vessels come and go.

Positive feedback

The team received positive comments from the crewmembers, who conveyed that they can expect more reliable watch keeping from the bridge. The test also led to an idea for an advanced user interface, which can provide information with greater precision. MOL plans to continuously accumulate data on the sea and use it to generate practical improvements in watch standing performance that make the system suitable for navigation in the Seto Inland Sea while upgrading its performance in adverse weather.

Looking forward

The company is looking forward to promoting its R&D project, “ISHIN NEXT – MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT” and is keen on taking a proactive stance in moving ahead to develop and introduce technologies that will contribute to reducing environmental impact and ensuring safe, reliable transport services.

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Source: MOL

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