The first self-driving ferry ride
It is seen as a world first: the 240-kilometre self-propelled ferry-carrying ferry into the Leonda Sea. Even the 222-meter ship performed mooring procedures completely independently.
The recent demonstration of the “Smart Coastal Ferry Project” used technology from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Shin Nihonkai Ferry Company. This was actually used during the development of the Japanese phrase Soli, named after a Japanese Sunflower† The ferry project, in turn, is part of the larger Meguri 2040 project. This is a project of the Japan Association for the Development of Autonomous Navigation of Ships.
Soleil first entered service on July 1 last year. The ship is controlled by a human crew. During the 150-mile, 7-hour journey between Shinmoji and Lyonada, the Super Bridge-X autonomous navigation system collected route data. The last independent crossing was the first to be handled completely independently by the Super Bridge-X system. The ferry’s maximum speed reached 26 knots (48 km/h).
In addition to the GPS function, the navigation system also uses a series of infrared cameras to detect and avoid other ships (day or night). Moreover, the engine monitoring system ensures that everything continues to run smoothly. An automated system provides support while docked. The latter system ensures that the ship turns around and docks in the two ports.
According to Mitsubishi, the development of these technologies contributes to increasing maritime safety, reducing crew work and reducing operating costs. This year, there will be several demos of the Meguri 2040 project.
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