MOL-led consortium unveils plans for autonomous navigation project

Sunflower Shiretoko (Photo: NIMURA)

A consortium of Japanese companies led by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has applied for grant funding from The Nippon Foundation for demonstration voyages to test underlying technologies for autonomous sailing.

In cooperation with Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding and Furuno Electric, MOL Group has been developing technologies for autonomous sailing and is planning to conduct demonstration voyages of its autonomous sailing operation system, from unberthing to berthing.

The demonstration tests are expected to start in 2020 and will be conducted using the MOL Ferry-owned/operated coastal Ro-Pax ferry Sunflower Shiretoko (pictured) and the coastal containership Mikage owned by Imoto Corporation and operated by Imoto Lines.

The two vessels will be fitted with surrounding cognitive technology based on Furuno Electric-developed and owned sensors and Mitsui E&S-developed/owned ship handling systems for avoidance and auto berthing/unberthing.

Prior to the tests, MOL Marine will conduct testing of autonomous functions using a simulator.

MOL will oversee the entire program and conduct risk assessments. Following these demonstrations, the company will move ahead with further demonstration voyages of a 749-tonne containership and a car ferry with capacity for over 10,000 vehicles.

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