Japanese yard Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is taking part in a project to develop a crewless coastal freighter called the Roboship. The project is a joint effort between Japanese joint venture company e5 Lab, some 22 other companies and a classification society.
The e5 Lab venture is a business established in 2019 by four shipping companies and a trading firm to build electrically propelled ships and further develop digitisation and ship remote-control technologies.
A proof of concept (PoC) test was conducted on the Roboship using two actual surface vessels in the sea off Tokyo. The aim of the POC was to support the development and widespread implementation of a navigational support system for coastal vessels. Mitsubishi Shipbuilding provided support for the vessel’s remote-control/autonomous navigation, maritime-related engineering services and system integration for vessel propulsion. As part of the test, a navigation support system called Superbridge-X, with functions including route planning, course control, vessel speed control, and collision avoidance, has been installed in Urban Launch, a passenger vessel operated by Tokyo Cruise Ship Co., Ltd. to conduct cruises in Tokyo Bay and other areas.
A remotely operated unmanned surface vessel developed by MHI was also made available. The two vessels were used to demonstrate collision avoidance.