Japanese bulk shipping company NYK Line has used a vehicle carrier to complete a two-part manned autonomous voyage trial through the East China Sea
NYK said its 70,826-gt large car and truck carrier Iris Leader sailed autonomous legs from Yonaguni-jima Island to Cape Ashizuri, Japan and from Nagoya to Yokohama, Japan, between 14-20 September.
The two autonomous legs comprised the first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) trials based on IMO’s Interim Guidelines, which were approved in the June 2019 session of the Maritime Safety Committee.
As NYK described in a statement, the trial used the company’s Sherpa System for Real (SSR) ship navigation system, which calculates routes based on environmental conditions.
“During the trial, the SSR’s performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as it collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from existing navigational devices, calculated collision risk, automatically determined optimal routes and speeds that were safe and economical, and then automatically navigated the ship,” the NYK statement said.
“Using data and experience gained through this trial but not obtainable through onshore simulators, NYK was able to ensure the feasibility of the SSR and its benefit for safe and optimal operations. This trial was a big step toward realising NYK’s goal of manned autonomous ships.”
The SSR system, NYK said, will be one of the technologies included in the MASS guidelines.
“The SSR verified by this trial will also be applied to future coastal ships, which currently face serious crew shortages,” according to NYK.