To realize Japan’s first “unmanned operation of small tour boats” Automatic takeoff and landing and evasion Will you be the savior of remote island routes? | Merkmal

On the Sarushima route in Yokosuka, the world’s first unmanned operation demonstration experiment using a small sightseeing boat was successfully completed. Everything from takeoff and landing to cruising is automatic. High technology that realizes the operation of small vessels that require delicate steering has the potential to solve social issues surrounding vessels.

High-tech equipment on board

“Sea Friend ZERO” used in the demonstration experiment (photographed by Chisho Fukamizu).

The demonstration experiment of the unmanned ship development project “MEGURI 2040”, which the Nippon Foundation will invest about 8.8 billion yen, has finally started. The foundation estimates that the economic effect of unmanned vessels will be 1 trillion yen annually in 2040. Since February 2020, we have provided a total of approximately 7.4 billion yen to five consortia in order to realize unmanned navigation on existing routes for the first time in the world by the end of FY2021.
Of these, Marubeni, Triangle, Mitsui E & S Shipbuilding, and the consortium “Unmanned Operation Ship @ Sarushima” formed in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, succeeded in unmanned operation by the world’s first small sightseeing ship on the Sarushima route on January 11, 2022. ..

Mitsui E & S Shipbuilding’s autonomous ship maneuvering technology is applied to the small triangle sightseeing boat “Sea Friend ZERO” (19 gross tonnage) that handles “YOKOSUKA military port tours”. In addition to being equipped with the company’s integrated ship maneuvering device (MMS), three cameras that detect small ships by image analysis as sensors that support the automatic operation system, GNSS (satellite positioning system), AIS (automatic identification system), etc. In the experiment, a takeoff and landing sensor and LiDAR (laser radar) were also installed.

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Marubeni’s Executive Officer Kosuke Takechi (General Manager of Aviation and Ship Division) said, “The two characteristics of this consortium are” small vessels “and” retrofit. ” By doing so, we have been developing and verifying the technology with the aim of enabling a wide range of unmanned operations. “

In this demonstration experiment, “Sea Friend ZERO” automatically performs a series of operations such as takeoff and landing, navigation, and avoidance by the autonomous unit in front of the wheelhouse.

The ship automatically moves the throttle in the wheelhouse and leaves the new Mikasa Pier. When the obstacle detection system detected other ships on the route by analyzing the surrounding data obtained from the sensor, the autonomous ship maneuvering system changed course based on the analysis of AI (artificial intelligence) and avoided the ship in front. When approaching the destination Sarushima, I slowed down while grasping the position and speed of my ship, the wind direction and speed of the surroundings, and landed using a thruster.

Following the success of the demonstration experiment, Mitsui E & S Shipbuilding President Isamu Funatsu said, “Although it is a very small ship, the fact that it was possible to automate and unmanned everything from leaving the pier to arriving at it has become a technically high level. Isn’t it? “