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JAPANESE FERRY COMPANY AND SHIPBUILDER TO DEVELOP AUTONOMOUS FERRY

Friday, June 12, 2020 

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, in collaboration with Shin Nihonkai Ferry Co, are to begin development of underlying technologies and systems to enable unmanned ship navigation.

The project will receive grant aid under the 'Joint Technological Development Programme for the Demonstration of Unmanned Ships' scheme sponsored by The Nippon Foundation. The resulting prototype system will be installed on a vessel to be operated by Shin Nihonkai Ferry and undergo verification via demonstration testing in Japanese coastal waters.

Once the development phase has been completed, the prototype unmanned navigation system will be installed in a large ro-pax vessel ordered by Shin Nihonkai Ferry, to be built at the Tategami Main Plant of MHI's Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works. Demonstration testing of the new system will be performed for about a year, starting from ship delivery scheduled for end-June 2021 through May 2022. During this phase, crew will be on board to monitor operations and ensure safety.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has been developing automation systems to assist ship navigation and cargo handling since the 1990s. Under the new development programme, the company will collaborate not only with Shin Nihonkai Ferry but also with academic institutions, IT businesses and control system engineering firms in the design, construction and total verification of a large car ferry which integrates advanced unmanned navigation technologies. Plans also call for verification and demonstration as a comprehensive system enabling totally unmanned navigation, advancing technological development further. For example, remote diagnosis technologies developed by MHI Group for large-scale equipment will be integrated to achieve unmanned operation of the ship's propulsion plant.

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