e5 Lab has launched the project on Roboship, an electrically powered vessel that comes with an integrated system called the Roboship Box, which brings together telecommunications, the Internet of things (IoT) and software to achieve zero emissions.

With the project, e5 Lab aims to address key issues in ocean shipping and maritime industries of Japan.

The issues stem from a shortage of seafarers, environmental and safety concerns, and the sustainable growth of the shipbuilding sector.

With the support of strategic partners in Japan and other international markets, the development project team plans to commercialise the electric-powered vessels that embrace advanced propulsion systems at a competitive price.

The development team has built two types of electric vessels for the first version of Roboship with standard gross tonnage specifications  – one of 499t and the other of 749t.

According to the company, the vessels will be able to have the same speed and sailing range as those in service while also achieving zero-emission operation in port due to batteries with large capacity storage and a diesel-powered generator. 

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With DC grids and artificial intelligence technology, the vessels will be able to achieve greater efficiency than those in service, the company noted. 

Moreover, the first version of Roboship can reduce the workload of seafarers, mechanical problem risks and maintenance costs as the motors are powered by electricity.

Currently, the team’s target is to keep construction costs less than 5% above the cost of similar vessels.

The Roboship Ver. 1.0 is scheduled for delivery in 2022.

e5 Lab, along with its partners, also plans to promote the Roboship and accelerate digital transformation in the maritime industry by providing Roboship Box and the EV powertrain to shipowners that are interested in the technology.

According to the company, the wide application of the Roboship and Roboship Box will provide value-added vessels in terms of environmental friendliness, economy and performance.

Seven companies – Asahi Tanker, Idemitsu Kosan, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui OSK Lines, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, Tokyo Electric Power Company and Mitsubishi Corporation – established the e5 Consortium.