Japan-based shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Rolls-Royce have jointly conducted a series of tests to confirm the ability of Intelligent Awareness and machine-learning technologies to enhance the navigational safety of vessels.

The pilot project was carried out onboard a 165m passenger ferry, named Sunflower Gold.

The vessel is deployed to serve Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo, Bisan Seto and Kurushima Straits, which are some of the world’s most challenging routes. It also provides night-time services between Kobe and Oita in Japan.

As part of the test, Rolls-Royce’s Intelligent Awareness sensors, thermal imaging cameras and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system were installed on Sunflower Gold in April this year in order to provide daytime-like situational awareness of the vessel’s surrounding to the ship’s bridge team.

The installation was done as part of a joint development agreement reached between Rolls-Royce with MOL last year.

“During the trials, the Intelligent Awareness system was able to detect all potential navigational obstacles.”

Results from the tests showed that the solutions enabled the navigating officers onboard the vessel to visually detect objects which would otherwise have been hidden at night.

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Rolls-Royce Remote and Autonomous Solutions general manager Iiro Lindborg said: “During the trials, the Intelligent Awareness system was able to detect all potential navigational obstacles, allowing the crew to mitigate against any safety risks during night crossings.”

The company intends to feed the results from the latest test and other Rolls-Royce Intelligent Awareness (IA) projects to its machine-learning algorithms to further develop the IA system.

The feed is also expected to help the permanent installation of Rolls-Royce IA and other machine-learning technologies on Sunflower Gold later this year.

In addition, Rolls-Royce is expected to feed data from tests onboard Finferries’ double-ended ferry Stella into its machine-learning algorithm.

The 65m ferry currently operates between Korpo and Houtskär in Archipelago Sea in Finland’s southwest coast.