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The Nippon Foundation’s MEGURI2040 Fully Autonomous Ship Program

Date: 15 Mar 2022 Author: Raymond

In a groundbreaking trial, an autonomous cargo ship recently completed an endurance test off the coast of Japan. The vessel, named Suzaku, sailed approximately 426 nautical miles round trip from Tokyo Bay to the Port of Tsu-Matsusaka in Ise Bay, south of Tokyo.

During the trial, Suzaku was equipped with an autonomous navigation function and connected via satellite and ground communication lines to a fleet operation center. The voyage included testing functions such as remote maneuvering and engine-abnormality prediction to support fully autonomous ship operations from shore.

The trial simulated the actual operation of future autonomous ships, covering offshore maneuvering, bay navigation, coastal navigation, and berthing. Notably, navigating through busy Tokyo Bay—where an average of 500 ships move daily—proved challenging.

The Distributed Fleet Fully Autonomous Ship (DFFSA) system used in the trial has three primary components i.e Ship Navigation System which controls the autonomous ship operations, Shore-Side System which monitors and supports the ship, including remote handling functions ; and Information System which enables stable communication between the ship and the shore-based operation center, managing weather conditions, traffic flow, and equipment status.
The trial employed the Action Planning and Execution System for Full Autonomous (APExS) framework, which builds on crewed autonomous ship technology. The computer executes maneuvering operations after crew approval.

Classification societies ClassNK and Bureau Veritas reviewed the safety of the framework and issued approval in principle (AiP) for a fully autonomous ship framework—the first of its kind in Japan.

📃📷 Source: The Nippon Foundation