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NYK  to have accomplished World's First Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Trial

2019-10-01

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

NYK announced it has conducted the world's first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) trial performed in accordance with the IMO's Interim Guidelines for MASS trials as the company begins tests to realize its target of manned autonomous ships for safer operations and a reduction in crew workload.

In the MASS trial, from September 14 to 17, Iris Leader, a large NYK-operated PCTC with a gross tonnage of 70,826 tons, was navigated day and night using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR) navigation system on a voyage from Xinsha, China, to Nagoya, Japan, and then from the port of Nagoya to the port of Yokohama, Japan. Crew performed typical duties during the trips to Japan's coastal area but excluded bays.

During the trial, the SSR's performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as it collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from existing navigational devices, calculated collision risk, automatically determined optimal routes and speeds that were safe and economical, and then automatically navigated the ship.

Using data and experience gained through this trial but not obtainable through onshore simulators, NYK was able to ensure the feasibility of the SSR and its benefit for safe and optimal operations calling it a big step toward realizing its goal of manned autonomous ships.

 

During the trial, the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR), which navigates a vessel by calculating optimal routes based on environmental conditions was used. SSR's performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as it collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from existing navigational devices, calculated collision risk, automatically determined optimal routes and speeds that were safe and economical, and then automatically navigated the ship. Using data and experience gained through this trial but not obtainable through onshore simulators, NYK was able to ensure the feasibility of the SSR and its benefit for safe and optimal operations.

For NYK, the trial was a big step toward realizing it's goal of manned autonomous ships.They will analyze the data and continue to develop the SSR into a more advanced navigation-support system by making adjustments to the difference between the optimal course derived from the program and that determined by professional human judgment.

Stating "The SSR verified by this trial will also be applied to future coastal ships, which currently face serious crew shortages," adding that the SSR "can become a basic technology for remote and unmanned navigation" implies unmanned ships may also be on NYK's radar.  Video of the trial.

 

 
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