Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) has selected a joint demonstration project proposed by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and partners on autonomous shipping.

Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMST), and Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen) are also involved in the project, which is associated with automated and autonomous operations of vessels’ berthing and un-berthing activities.

It has been selected for MLIT’s FY2018 autonomous vessel demonstration project with an aim to bring vessels with autonomous berthing and un-berthing into service by 2025.

MOL in a statement said: “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.”

“Autonomous operations hold great promise in reducing the workload for mariners, and represent a fundamental change in ocean transport.”

The proposed auto-berthing and un-berthing demonstration project is expected to identify technical issues by demonstrating autonomous operation with a real vessel, as well as studying ways to practically use the operation.

A demonstration test is scheduled to be conducted within this fiscal year with the help of TUMST’s ‘Shioji Maru’ training ship.

From the next fiscal year, the project partners are also planning to test auto-berthing and un-berthing using a large-size ship operating in a domestic ferry service.

The demonstration project will be benefitted from each of the partner’s technologies and expertise, including knowledge gained through MOL’s ‘Senpaku-Ishin NEXT – MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT’ for reducing environmental impact and enhancing safe operation of a vessel.

As part of the joint demonstration project, the partners are planning to perform their own remote monitoring and auto-collision avoidance demonstration tests in order to accelerate the development of a highly practical automated and autonomous ship operation system.