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Nippon Yusen tests self-sailing cargo ship

Radar and positioning tech promises to cut collisions

Nippon Yusen's car carrier used for the trials: Human error is said to cause about 70% of ship collisions.

TOKYO -- Japanese marine shipper Nippon Yusen has run what it bills as the world's first trials of a self-navigating vessel, technology expected to ease crew workloads and improve safety.

Technology developed by group company Japan Marine Science uses radar and automatic identification system signals generated by ships to set courses that avoid collisions. Human error is said to cause about 70% of ship collisions.

The tech will be shared outside the group, Nippon Yusen executive Tomoyuki Koyama told reporters Monday. "I want to create [a system] that will support Japanese logistics," he said.

Nippon Yusen conducted the manned trials with a car carrier in Japanese waters this September: one from Okinawa to Kochi Prefecture, and the other from Nagoya to Yokohama.

More trials are slated for next year to assess the impact of such factors as waves and wind bursts. The system will also incorporate the judgment of experienced sailors.

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