A consortium of Japanese tech companies, ship manufacturers and shipping companies plans to launch robo ships on the Japanese coastline by 2025, media reports said. The development aims to heal the industry which is facing labour shortage.
The robo ships project is backed by Nippon Foundation, a non-profit organisation. The development will be carried out with the help of satellites and ultra-speed 5G wireless networks for communication between land and sea, and AI to help set efficient routes.
The participants of the project are Nippon Yusen and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone. The project, if successful will reduce the burden of domestic ships by allowing the crew members to commute to a nearby control station instead of spending months at the sea. Moreover, The Nippon Foundations plans to use robotic vessels for 50 percent of domestic shipping by 2040.
The technical challenges such as the need for cameras and sensors that monitor conditions in place of a human crew, that transportation companies and shipbuilders face will be handled by the robo ship.
The project is expected to undergo a trial run next year with a mid-size domestic container ship. A system allowing the ship to automatically steer away from potential collisions with other vessels will also be installed during the trail. Moreover, the trial aims to install necessary equipment and system in a container that can be installed in existing ships.
NTT mobile networks will operate the communications for the project on LTE networks from broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT.