NYK car carrier in world first autonomous voyage from China to Japan

Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has conducted what it claims is the world’s first maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) trial performed in accordance with the the International Maritime Organization’s interim guidelines for MASS trials as the company begins tests to realise its target of manned autonomous ships.

Iris Leader, a large NYK-operated car carrier, was navigated day and night using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR) navigation system for three days in mid-mid-September from Xinsha, China, to the port of Nagoya, Japan, and then from the port of Nagoya to the port of Yokohama, Japan, from September 19 to 20. Crew performed typical duties during the navigations, which included Japan’s coastal area but excluded bays.

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.

“This trial was a big step toward realizing NYK’s goal of manned autonomous ships,” the Japanese shipping major stated in a release.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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