NYK to roll out automated situational awareness system across fleet

Japanese shipping company NYK has announced plans to implement a new automated situational awareness system across its fleet, including bulk carriers, tankers and containerships, to improve operational safety.

The company will install the Orca AI platform on its ships following two years of trials and collaboration across a number of projects.

“Orca AI demonstrated that the safety of shipping operations can be improved by automating the task of target detection in low visibility in congested waters,” said Captain Jun Nakamura, Manager of the autonomous ship team at NYK Group.

“The platform serves as an automated lookout and recognises dangerous targets and other vessels that may be overlooked by the human eye, reducing the probability of incidents at sea.”

NYK, and its in-house tech division MTI, first installed a trial version of Orca AI’s platform in August 2020 on one of the company’s ships, before working with the software developer on an autonomous voyage trial along Japan’s east coast through the Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ships (DFFAS) consortium, which includes 30 Japanese firms.

The trial – known as the MEGURI2040 Project and supported by the Nippon Foundation – was carried out on Suzaku, a 749 gross tonne autonomous containership fitted with Orca’s artificial intelligence and deep-learning technology. Traveling from Tokyo Bay to the port of Tsumatsusaka in the Ise Bay, the vessel achieved 40 hours of navigation, with complete autonomy for approximately 98% of the voyage.

The vessel automatically carried out 107 collision avoidance manoeuvres and avoided up to 500 ships using the system, which provided real-time detection, tracking, and range estimation through 18 cameras with panoramic views.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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