Artificial Intelligence: Crewless 750-Ton Commercial Cargo Ship Completes A 500-Mile Voyage Successfully

The cargo ship Suzaka, which completed the autonomous trial, is owned by NYK and was powered by AI from Orca AI.

In what is said to be a world-first, the Suzaka commercial cargo ship, owned by Japanese shipping group NYK, sailed autonomously from Tokyo Bay and completed successfully a 40-hour, 790 km voyage with near-zero human intervention. The ship was equipped with Orca AI’s Automatic Ship Target Recognition System, a safety system for crewless ships. (Elektrek)

NYK is a participant in the DFFAS (Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship) project comprising about 60 domestic and overseas cooperating companies and organizations and 30 Japanese companies including NYK and NYK Group companies Japan Marine Science Inc., MTI Co. Ltd., and Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.

The trial voyage

In the trial, the Suzaku navigated a highly congested route during its round-trip voyage starting from and returning to Tokyo Bay via Ise Bay. The area is known for its maritime traffic, with roughly 500 ships passing everyday.

 The ship was guided by the DFFAS system and a remote control operation run from the fleet operation center in Chiba prefecture.

The successful trial shows that autonomous ships are a practical solution in the context of problems facing the domestic shipping industry such as crew shortages, aging maritime personnel, and shipping accidents.

Electric autonomous cargo ship

Last November, the Yara Birkeland, the world’s first fully electric, completely autonomous cargo ship, successfully completed its maiden voyage along the Norwegian coast from Horten to Oslo.

The voyage was an initiative of Norwegian chemical company Yara, which expects to cut an estimated 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips carried out by diesel trucks per year.

Related Story: Autonomous Mayflower’s Transatlantic Voyage Cut Short After Glitch

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