The demonstration was part of MEGURI 2040, a project promoting the development of fully autonomous ships supported by the Nippon Foundation.
“This test demonstrated the world’s first fully autonomous navigation system, on a 222 meter ferry, with autonomous port docking and unberthing using turning and reversing movements and high-speed navigation up to 26 knots “Mitsubishi said in a statement.
According to the press release, other new technologies included in the fully autonomous advanced operating system include sensors to detect other vessels using infrared cameras, a remote engine monitoring system and a sophisticated cybersecurity.
“These advances in fully autonomous marine navigation are seen as an important step towards safer and more efficient coastal shipping,” said Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, of which Mitsubishi Shipbuilding is a part.
Fully autonomous ship project (Smart Coastal Ferry)
The companies said the successful demonstration test was for the fully autonomous Smart Coastal Ferry project.
The newly built SOLEIL ferry started sailing with a crew on board on July 1, 2021, compiling data for the development of a fully autonomous navigation system. Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., which has experience in developing navigational aid systems that achieve automation labor and crew savings, is responsible for the integration of the whole system, and Shin Nihonkai Ferry Co., Ltd. is in charge of the configuration of the vessel. system requirements and performing the demonstration test. These developments will help address coastal shipping issues including improved safety, crew labor savings and cost reduction.
The demonstration test of what has been described as the world’s first fully autonomous ship navigation systems of the 222-meter smart ship was carried out on a 240 km route from Shinmoji (northern Kyushu) to Iyonada, which takes about 7 hours, at a maximum speed of 26 knots (about 50 km/hour).
“The test vessel was equipped with a high-precision sensor image analysis system with infrared cameras that can detect other vessels even in the dark, an automated vessel navigation system SUPER BRIDGE- X which includes an automated avoidance function and an advanced automated harbor berthing system / undocking operation system capable of performing turning and reversing movements that are difficult even for manned vessels.
One of the biggest problems with a fully automated vessel is failure prediction, and improved engine monitoring technologies that monitor engine conditions are also being developed and tested,” MHI said.
According to MHI, the project is also developing various other technologies critical to promoting fully autonomous navigation, including advanced data security platforms to protect navigational data used for shore-based monitoring and assistance.