Japan govt, shippers push to develop ‘self-navigating vessels’
Response to crew shortages, safety concerns
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that shortages of qualified crews and safety concerns are prompting Japan’s Transport Ministry and shipping companies to develop satellite-aided self-navigating vessels that can be put into practical use by 2025.
Such self-navigating ships will also receive operational guidance from land via telecommunications, according to the newspaper. Japanese transport officials will reportedly take the lead in drawing up international rules governing the use of such vessels, while Japanese shipping companies will focus on developing the technology.
The ministry is expected to draw up a roadmap by this spring that outlines the steps needed to develop such ships.
“Self-navigating vessels would receive remote support for their operations from a control center on land, communicating through artificial satellites, making it possible to do things like convey optimal sea routes from land and realize automatic docking and undocking,” Yomiuri reported.
80 percent of all accidents at sea are blamed on human errors. The addition of advanced technology is expected to significantly reduce such mishaps.
Japan isn’t the only country interested in developing the new maritime technology. Britain and other European countries are also researching self-navigating ship systems.