Japan's Unmanned Autonomous Container Cargo Ship Successfully Sailed its First Voyage

Is this the future for sea travel? The Mikage, a seven-year-old Japanese coastal container ship successfully sailed its first voyage without the need for a crew aboard. The voyage was part of a test by the Mitsui group to develop autonomous shipping capabilities. The ship sailed from the Tsuruga port on the Sea of Japan to Sakai port near Osaka, Japan. 

The 1,870 dwt vessel was equipped with a series of systems, developed by the participating companies in the project, to travel for 161 nautical miles. In order to safely complete the voyage without someone steering the ship, the Mikage followed a formulated route using a system developed by Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding. The system follows accurate location information, various external elements such as wind, tides, and currents. The ship also has specific information on its configuration, maneuverability, and ability to accelerate and decelerate. Furuno Electric created a system that provided details on the ship’s surroundings from radar, camera images, and AIS data. Mooring support technology was also added to the ship, which was developed by  A.L.I. Technologies. The technology used drones to carry the line to the pier to help with the ship’s docking operation. 

Image credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines 

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