Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen) Inc. , and MOL Ferry Co., Ltd. announced the success of a demonstration test (from March to April 2021) of their jointly developed auto berthing and un-berthing system at an actual pier in Oarai Port, Ibaraki Prefecture, using the large-size car ferry Sunflower Shiretoko, owned by MOL Ferry. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) selected this joint initiative for its autonomous vessel demonstration project .
This demonstration test is a world first from two aspects: use of a large car ferry (gross tonnage: 11,410 tons) on one of its service routes; conducting the test using an actual pier. The project team developed the ship operation plan, operation guide, criteria for canceling the test, and so on, and used simulations to conduct a thorough safety assessment under various conditions. In addition, the team conducted the demonstration test and verifying safety on the vessel in service by autonomously berthing and un-berthing at a virtual pier projected on the water.
Leveraging the results of this demonstration test, the project team will conduct demonstration tests of auto berthing and un-berthing at actual berths with other ship types, with the aim of developing a highly versatile technology.
MES-S, MOL, TUMST, Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen), MOL Ferry continually strive to ensure safe, reliable maritime traffic and reduce seafarers’ workload through activities to realize autonomous ship operations including the auto berthing and un-berthing demonstration test project.