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SoftBank joins quest for remote-piloted ships

Mitsui OSK and other Japanese shippers seek to remedy chronic crew shortages

Japanese shippers are struggling to find crews to man their ships. Remotely operated vessels are seen as a bridge to fully autonomous navigation.

TOKYO -- Japan's SoftBank will work with compatriots including shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines on a fast maritime communications network that will open the door to remote-controlled ships.

The service will use a satellite constellation operated by U.K.-based OneWeb, which is roughly 50% owned by SoftBank. OneWeb anticipates speeds of 400 megabits per second -- 100 times as fast as current maritime networks, which are a decade behind land-based telecommunications.

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