Autonomous ship framework for Japanese project gets ABS approval

A design for a fully autonomous ship framework being developed as part of the MEGURI 2040 project in Japan has been granted approval in principle (AIP) by class society ABS.

The APExS-auto (Action Planning and Execution System for full autonomous) framework was developed by shipping company NYK, in conjunction with its subsidiary companies Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI) and Japan Marine Science (JMS).

The APExS-auto framework uses a systems engineering approach to govern berth-to-berth autonomous navigation operations, covering a variety of operations from onboard activities to supervision activities in a remote operations centre.

“We have been working on the system design of autonomous ships utilising the Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach, and believe that the AIP is significant in that it validates our thinking and approach in light of the framework of ABS, which has deep knowledge of the safety of complex systems, including autonomous ships, and in that it establishes a communication between us and ABS for the future practical application of the autonomous navigation system,” said Dr Hideyuki Ando, Director, MTI.

MEGURI2040, which began in 2020, is aiming for full-scale commercialisation of fully autonomous ship technology by 2025. The programme was developed in cooperation with the Nippon Foundation.

A demonstration of ship-land operations will be conducted before the end of the project featuring four different types of ships (a newly built container ship with fully autonomous navigation functions, an existing container ship, a RoRo cargo ship, and a remote island route ship with some autonomous navigation functions), with two Fleet Operation Centres also to be created.

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Rob O'Dwyer

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