Berthing test MOL

Mitsui and Tokyo University Test Autonomous Vessel Berthing

Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, Mitsui OSK Lines and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology have completed 54 autonomous berthing operations using a virtual pier set on the open water off the coast of Japan. The demonstration project was conducted using the university's training ship Shioji Maru. 

The project was selected for Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT)'s FY2018 autonomous vessel demonstration project. Through the demonstrations, data was collected for R&D on auto berthing systems.

Watch a video of the berthing test (Japanese commentary) below.

Ship Operation Plans and Simulations

Before conducting the test, the team formulated the ship operation plan, test guidelines, and criteria for cancelling the operation ahead of time due to safety concerns. At the same time, a thorough safety assessment was conducted for different scenarios by using the simulation environment.

Tests with Ferry Planned

The team plans a demonstration test with a large-size coastal ferry in FY2019 after substantially examining the development of the ship operation control system and test methods to address the following issues:

  • Realisation of auto berthing control in consideration of vessel speed, course, and distance with sufficient safety margin, without making seafarers recognise risk. 
  • Realisation of appropriate manoeuvring control in consideration of the large-size ferry’s manoeuvring performance characteristics.
  • Determination of definite criteria for making decisions of continue/stop on auto operation in consideration of events such as machinery and equipment failures that occur during auto operations and other phenomena such as sudden changes in surrounding environmental conditions. 
  • Determination of guidelines for the transition of ship operation from the system to the crew after the cancellation of the automatic operation considering safety and situation. 

Picture: Simulation of auto berthing and un-berthing operations (still from video below).

Author: Mariska

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