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Robot Ship to Navigate Pacific in 2019

August 28th 2017

Cargo Ship

Bloomberg reports that Japan's largest container shipping company plans to test a remote-controlled vessel across the Pacific Ocean in 2019.

According to reports, shipping company Nippon Yusen (Tokyo, Japan) is planning to conduct the test using a large container ship to travel across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to North America. The ship will have a stand-by crew in case of emergency.

The move is part of a longer-term plan to develop fully autonomous, self-piloting cargo ships. Nippon Yusen has joined with other shippers to make unmanned self-navigating ships a reality by 2025.

Combining artificial intelligence and IoT technologies, the autonomous ships will be designed to not only determine the safest and most fuel-efficient routes, but to recognize on-board malfunctions as well as avoid other vessels. Ship safety has been highlighted recently with incidents involving shipping vessels colliding with U.S. Navy warships.

Nippon Yusen is partnering with radar manufacturer Furuno Electric Co. and communication equipment-makers Japan Radio Co. and Tokyo Keiki Inc. to study crash avoidance techniques using autonomous ships, Bloomberg says. Japan's second- and third-largest shipping companies are also working on developing autonomous ship technology but have not yet announced any testing plans.

Research into cutting-edge data transmission for automated ships is being backed by the Japanese government, which also hopes to set domestic and international standards for the new ships. Its goal is reportedly to have 250 such ships built domestically by 2025.

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