Japanese Firms Set to Launch Self-Piloting Cargo Ships Soon

Container ship

Container ship. Credit: Creative Commons/Eduard47

Are you excited about self-driving cars driven by artificial intelligence? Get ready for the launch of self-driving cargo ships. Japanese shipping firms are working with shipbuilders to develop self-piloting container ships driven by artificial intelligence.

It is reported that Japanese companies such as Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Japan Marine United, and Nippon Yusen are investing millions of dollars (billions of yen) to create remote-controlled cargo vessels by 2025. The smart ships would use the Internet of Things (IoT) to generate real-time data on weather conditions, obstacles, and fuel efficiency. The ships would be able to plot the shortest, safest, and most efficient routes.

According to the sources, Nippon Yusen has already been working on enabling ships to use data to assess collision risks using technology. It is reported that they are also working with DNV GL, Norwegian maritime company, to collect and analyse data on vessel performance and condition.

The companies believe that the use of technology could radically cut down the number of accidents at sea. The project is expected to increase Japan’s global share of the shipping market to 30%.

The autonomy to commercial ships has been inspired by Rolls-Royce’s plan to develop unmanned ships. Rolls-Royce, a pre-eminent engineering company, reiterated envisaging a remote-controlled vessel which would be operational within a decade, followed by an unmanned ocean-going vessel by 2035. Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce’s Vice-President of Marine Innovation said that they would see a remote-controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.

According to sources, the Japanese vessels would not be fully unmanned unlike Rolls-Royce’s ships, which are expected to be guided by a captain and crew from a control hub that is land-based. It is reported that the European Union (EU) is also funding research into autonomous maritime navigation.

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