NYK conducts world’s first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships trial

PRESS RELEASE – NYK has conducted the world’s first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) trial as the company begins tests to realize its target of manned autonomous ships for safer operations and a reduction in crew workload.

Iris Leader, a large NYK-operated car carrier with a gross tonnage of 70,826 tons, was navigated day and night using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR) navigation system, which navigates a vessel by calculating optimal routes based on environmental conditions.

The voyage took place from 14 to 20 September. It started in China, where the vessel sailed from Xinsha to the Japanese ports of Nagoya and Yokohama. The crew performed typical duties during the navigations, which included Japan’s coastal area but excluded bays.

During the trial, the SSR’s performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as it collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from existing navigational devices, calculated collision risk, automatically determined optimal routes and speeds that were safe and economical, and then automatically navigated the ship.

Using data and experience gained through this trial, NYK was able to ensure the feasibility of the SSR and its benefit for safe and optimal operations.

NYK will analyze the data and continue to develop the SSR into a more advanced navigation-support system by making adjustments to the difference between the optimal course derived by the program and that determined by professional human judgment.

The car carrier Iris Leader sailed itself on a 6-day voyage from China to Japan. (Photo: NYK)

Author: Tobias Pieffers

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