Japanese shipping company NYK reports that it has successfully completed tests of a remotely navigated tugboat, as part of the Japanese government’s Sea Trial Project on Remote Control Navigation.
NYK, working with its group companies MTI, Keihin Dock Co., and Japan Marine Science (JMS), equipped the tugboat with a manned remotely controlled system that allowed the vessel to be directed around Tokyo Bay by shore based staff.
The tug was operated remotely from an operations centre in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture, approximately 400 kilometres away, and was manoeuvred approximately 12 kilometres around an area off Honmoku and an area off the port of Yokosuka.
The remote operator was able to use sensors and cameras installed aboard the tugboat to assess the surrounding conditions and create a collision avoidance route plan. Those plans were then shared with the tugboat captain for approval.
The approved route plan and action plan were evaluated and confirmed onboard and the remotely navigated tugboat was clear to proceed with operations.
NYK notes that its next step in this project will be to overcome ship-to-shore communication issues that were revealed during the tests, to further improve the system with the aim of starting expanded remote navigation tests using domestic coastal ships later this year.