Japanese shipping major NYK has tested remote navigation of a tugboat as a part of the Japanese government’s Sea Trial Project on Remote Control Navigation, which aims to establish necessary requirements for the realization of autonomous ships.
The test was carried out within the Tokyo Bay using Yoshino Maru tugboat, operated by Shin-Nippon Kaiyosha Corporation, an NYK Group company.
The tugboat, equipped with a manned remotely controlled system, was operated remotely from an operation center in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture approximately 400 kilometers away.
During the trials, the tugboat was maneuvered approximately 12 kilometers in Tokyo Bay between an area off Honmoku and an area off the port of Yokosuka.
“The operator in the remote operation center was able to use sensors and cameras equipped to the tugboat to recognize surrounding conditions and created a route plan and action plan (collision avoidance route plan). The operator shared the plans with the tugboat captain, who then approved them,” NYK said.
Moving forward, NYK and its group companies plan to work on overcoming ship-to-shore communication issues that were revealed during the experiment and further improve the system.
NYK revealed that it aims to start remote navigation tests using domestic coastal ships within this year.
“We will continue to work with our partners to develop technology for large vessels in the future,” the company concluded.