Largest Container Shipping Line In Japan To Test Remote-Controlled Vessel, Working Towards Fully Autonomous Shipping

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In pursuit of its goal to achieve fully autonomous shipping, the largest container shipping firm in Japan, Nippon Yusen, will begin testing a remote-controlled vessel in the Pacific Ocean by 2019, according to recent reports.

The testing will reportedly feature a crew on standby, in case safety needs call for intervention. Presuming that all goes well, though, the plans will lead to a complete shift away from the need for a crew — which would cut costs for the company considerably.

To be clearer here, the testing is being considered by the research and development body Nippon Yusen K.K. — a unit of Nippon Yusen. The news comes via a recent interview with a senior general manager at Monohakobi Technology Institute by the name of Hideyuki Ando.

Here’s more on the matter: “Nippon Yusen said last year that it tied up 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.

“Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., Japan’s second- and third-largest shipping lines, are also working on autonomous ship technology but declined to say when they would sail a test ship.

“Japan’s government is backing research into data transmission and setting domestic and international standards for automated ships. Its goal is to have the cutting-edge transmission technology included on 250 ships built domestically by 2025, it said in a white paper in June.”

Other firms that are currently working on the development of autonomous ships are BHP Billiton Ltd., Yara International ASA, and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc. Yara International is currently aiming to begin remote testing of autonomous ships in 2019 as well.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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