Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, a part of an industrial firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, and marine transport company Shin Nihonkai Ferry demonstrated a fully autonomous navigation system, on a 222-metre ferry, with autonomous port berthing and unberthing using turning and reversing movements and high-speed navigation.

credit: MHI

The demonstration was part of MEGURI 2040, a project promoting the development of fully autonomous vessels supported by The Nippon Foundation.

The demonstration test is a part of the fully autonomous Smart Coastal Ferry project under which the newly built SOLEIL ferry began navigating with an onboard crew on 1 July 2021, compiling data for the development of a fully autonomous ship navigation system.

The 222-meter vehicle-carrying ferry has autonomously navigated a 240 km (149 miles) stretch of Japan’s Iyonada Sea from Shinmoji, Kitakyushu City, which takes approximately 7 hours, at a maximum speed of 26 knots (approximately 50 km/h). The test vessel was equipped with a Super Bridge-X automated ship navigation system that includes an automated avoidance function and an advanced automated port berthing/unberthing operation system that can perform turning and reversing movements that are even difficult for manned vessels.

These advances in fully autonomous ship navigation are seen as a significant step toward safer and more efficient coastal shipping.

According to offshore-energy