ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Technology

Mitsui OSK and Rolls-Royce to try out autonomous ship tech

Trial aboard a Japanese ferry promises a treasure-trove of data

This is what Mitsui O.S.K. and Rolls-Royce's new system will look like on screen.

TOKYO -- Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Rolls-Royce are partnering to develop autonomous shipping technology, starting with a feasibility study in Japanese waters.

The Japanese shipping company and British engine manufacturer envision a system that uses sensors to avoid collisions. The advanced sensors, developed by Rolls-Royce and based on technology known as lidar -- light detection and ranging -- can recognize other ships and track their movements more accurately than ordinary radar.  

The partners plan to test the sensors on Mitsui's Sunflower ferry, which links the western Japanese city of Kobe to Oita in the south of the country.

Lidar involves 3-D analysis of lasers reflected by ships and other objects. The new system combines lidar with optic cameras, GPS and information gathered by sailors on patrol. The system should eventually allow operators to quickly assess conditions around a vessel -- including the distance, speed and direction of other ships.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines' Sunflower ferry will be fitted with sensors for the joint study.

Today's ships rely on radar and human patrols. But regular radar, which maps nearby objects by beaming out electronic waves and analyzing the rebounds, is not particularly accurate.

Mitsui O.S.K. and Rolls-Royce expect the Sunflower testing to yield a variety of data, since the waters of the Seto Island Sea are among the world's busiest. Ships of various sizes ply those waters. And the Sunflower's 420km, 11-hour route takes it under major bridges and through narrow straits.

Both companies will study the data. 

Mitsui O.S.K. hopes to one day fully automate shipping, from departure to arrival. To achieve this, it is also developing artificial intelligence-based technology to spot, using images, other ships and obstacles that pose a collision risk.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media