Japanese shipping group Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) is testing an intelligent awareness system for vessels. MOL is testing Rolls-Royce’s intelligent awareness solution on passenger ferry Sunflower, which operates on a 222-nautical mile route in Japan.
Rolls-Royce said this system will “make vessels safer, easier and more efficient to operate”. It provides information to crew that should enhance their understanding of a ship’s surroundings. It combines data from a network of onboard sensors, with information from bridge equipment such as ECDIS, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and radar.
Sunflower operates between Kobe and Oita in Japan, via the Akashi Kaikyo, Bisan Seto and Kurushima Straits. MOL director Kenta Arai said these are some of the most congested waters in the world, which means it will rigorously test the intelligent awareness product.
“We expect it to provide our crews with a more informed view of a vessel’s surroundings in an accessible and user friendly way,” he explained. “This can give our crews an enhanced decision support tool, increasing their safety and that of our vessels.” He expects this technology is a step towards developing autonomous ship operations.
Rolls-Royce Marine director of digital systems Asbjørn Skaro said this pilot project enables the company to explore ways to combine sensor technologies.
He added: “Successful pilots and product development programmes are an important step towards the further development of remote and autonomous vessels and meeting our goal of having a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.”
Rolls-Royce expects to be able to formally approve this intelligent awareness concept and begin selling it commercially in 2018.
MOL is developing other technology to assist seafarers in their daily operations. It has begun using virtual reality in seafarer training to reduce the risk of accidents.