A group of Japanese organisations including shipping major Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) are pushing ahead with a project to develop auto berthing technology with funding coming from the Japanese government.
The Japanese government has allocated significant funding towards developing autonomous vessels and this auto berthing project is one further step in this direction. Tokyo has publically stated it wants autonomous vessels to be in full operation by 2025.
In a release today, MOL stated: “Human errors account for 80% of marine accidents, and since automated and autonomous operations of vessels can significantly reduce human errors, they have the potential to make a great contribution to reducing marine accidents. Furthermore, autonomous operations hold great promise in reducing the workload for mariners, and represent a fundamental change in ocean transport.”
The company continued: “Berthing and un-berthing are some of the most difficult phases of ship operation, in which autonomous operations would be of great benefit. This auto berthing and un-berthing demonstration project will identify technical issues by demonstrating autonomous operation with a real vessel and study ways to achieve practical use.”
A first test will be conducted this year on the training ship Shioji Maru, with a view to trialling the technology next year on one of MOL’s ferries.