NYK successfully tests remotely navigated tugboats

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Japanese container shipping line NYK has successfully tested the remote capabilities of a tugboat in Tokyo Bay as part of the government’s ‘Sea Trial Project on Remote Navigation’ initiative.

In a statement, the carrier said it had worked with partners MTI Co. Ltd., Keihin Dock Co. Ltd., and Japan Marine Science Inc to test the technology. The tugboat was fitted with sensors and cameras, which the remote operator used to analyse the boat’s surroundings.

The remote operations centre, stationed 400 kilometres away in the city of Nishinomiya, created and relayed to the tugboat’s pilot suitable route and action plans.

The tugboat was maneuvered approximately 12 kilometres in Tokyo Bay between an area off Honmoku and an area off the Port of Yokosuka.

It represents a significant milestone for the carrier, which is seeking to launching practical remote navigation by 2025.

Along with its partners, NYK said it will work to overcome ship-to-shore communication issues that were revealed during the test, further improve the system, and aim to start remote navigation tests using domestic coastal ships within this year.

In doing so it will continue to work with the Japanese government as part of the aforementioned ‘Sea Trial Project on Remote Navigation’ initiative, the goal of which is to develop autonomous ships.

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