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Successful sea trial of autonomous sailing on a large car ferry voyage

2022-02-09

The unmanned ship project "MEGURI 2040" led by The Nippon Foundation

FURUNO Electric CO., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as "we"; headquartered in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture; Yukio Furuno, President) is working on the demonstration trial and aiming to successfully put unmanned ship into practical use by 2025, as part of the unmanned ship project "MEGURI 2040" led by The Nippon Foundation (hereinafter referred to as "the project").

MOL Co., Ltd. (President: Tsuyoshi Hashimoto, headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo), the leader of "unmanned technology verification test on coastal container ships and car ferries" which is one of the two consortiums we are participating, has concluded the world’s longest sea trial of unmanned ship operation using a large car ferry after the success on a coastal container ship.

This unmanned operation experiment was conducted on the commercial route of "Sunflower Shiretoko" (a large car ferry) in February 2022. It navigated about 750 km between Tomakomai Port in Hokkaido and Oarai Port in Ibaraki Prefecture for 18 hours day and night.

(Consortium members and its main roles)

Company name Main roles
Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. Development of "Awareness" function
(Integration of information from sensors during navigation and at berthing)
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL)
(President: Takeshi Hashimoto, Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Overall coordination, risk evaluation
Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
(MES-S; President: Isamu Funazu, Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo)
Development of "Judgement" and "Ship Operation" functions
(Automated collision avoidance routing, automated ship operation in port, automated berthing/unberthing operation)
Imoto Lines, Ltd.
(President: Takayuki Imoto; Headquarters: Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture)
Provide test ship and seafarers, develop ship operation plan.
A.L.I. Technologies, Inc.
(A.L.I.; President: Daisuke Katano; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Development of mooring support technology
(Throwing a heaving line from the ship to the pier using an unmanned drone)
MOL Ferry Co., Ltd.
(President: Naotoshi Omoto; Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
Provide test ship and seafarers, develop ship operation plan.
MOL Marine & Engineering Co., Ltd.
(President: Takashi Nakajima; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Create simulation program of collision avoidance navigation/ berthing/unberthing for testing automated function of those scene.

In this demonstration trial, we are responsible for developing automatic situation awareness system for "Awareness" function, which makes navigators’ lookout no longer required during the voyage. We are also working on the development of berthing support sensor that calculates relative distance between the pier and hull. Besides 749GT type coastal container ship, we succeeded in the autonomous sea trial on a large car ferry and demonstrated that they have a broad utility.

Automatic situation awareness system (measures and displays positions, speed, types of ships, and position of obstacles by integrating information from radar, AIS, and camera images) provides information to autonomous ship operation control system for making a safe route plan when there are other ships or obstacles on the set route.

Automatic situation awareness system

A screen shot of automatic situation awareness system

Berthing support sensor

Berthing support sensor (equipment that calculates and visually displays accurate relative distances and relative angles between the pier and hull from information gathered by LiDAR/camera/satellite compass) provides the necessary information to autonomous ship operation control system during automated berthing.

A screen shot of berthing support sensor

Based on the marine electronic equipment and communication technologies cultivated from the project so far, we have been promoting and will continue to promote new technological innovations toward the realization of safer and more efficient unmanned ships operation.

Full Ahead with FURUNO, Digital Transformation
https://www.furuno.com/en/marine-dx/

Related Links

Announced on February 7, 2022 (MOL): MOL and Partners Set World Records for Time and Distance in Autonomous Navigation with Sea Trial Using Large Commercial Car Ferry- Follows Successful Trial of Coastal Containership in Autonomous Sailing –
https://www.mol.co.jp/en/pr/2022/22017.html

Announced on January 25, 2022 (MOL): World's First Successful Sea Trial of Autonomous Sailing on a Commercial Container Ship Voyage
https://www.mol.co.jp/en/pr/2022/22007.html

Announced on February 4 (Furuno): Successful sea trial of autonomous ship voyage
https://www.furuno.co.jp/en/news/general/general_category.html?itemid=1116&dispmid=961

Announced on June 17, 2020 (Furuno): FURUNO Participates in autonomous ship demonstration trials
https://www.furuno.co.jp/en/news/general/general_category.html?itemid=905&dispmid=961

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