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The NYK Group conducts demonstration test of Collision Avoidance Navigation Research employing AI

Confirmation of the effectiveness of AI navigation support system

On December 9, NYK Group companies MTI Co., Ltd. and Japan Marine Science Inc. (JMS) conducted a demonstration test of collision avoidance navigation using artificial intelligence (AI) in Osaka Bay as part of a research program to develop navigation support for domestic vessels by using AI as core technology.* The research is currently conducted in collaboration with Kobe University and Osaka Prefecture University.

Outline of demonstration test

In this R&D project, we aim for to develop an automatic collision avoidance system that determines safe and economical course selection in various circumstances by applying the advanced AI method, deep reinforcement learning, a machine-learning method in which an autonomous program performs a vast number of voyage simulations to learn optimal collision avoidance strategy. The AI navigation support system that we are developing uses radar and AIS (Automatic Identification System) sensor information to recognize collision risks in ship navigation and automatically selects the optimal course. The selected course is set as the target course of the autopilot** for maneuvering.

After quantitative evaluations and evaluations by experienced operators of the AI navigation support system by using JMS’s ship-handling simulator, the demonstration test was performed by connecting the AI navigation support system with the ship-maneuvering system of the Kobe University training ship Fukae Maru. The collision avoidance behaviors against other ships and obstacles during navigation in Osaka Bay were confirmed and evaluated.

Demonstration test on Fukae Maru

Future Development

NYK and its group companies will continue to improve the system based on the accumulated knowledge from this demonstration and will collaborate with partners to realize the AI navigation support system in the navigation of larger vessels. In addition, we will expand the developed technologies for autonomous ships with crews and crewless autonomous ships that we are working on.

* A joint R&D program selected by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for its 2018 Transportation Research and Technology Promotion Program

** A device that automatically navigates a ship according to the course and speed set in advance by the crew

In accordance with the NYK Group’s medium-term management plan “Staying Ahead 2022 with Digitalization and Green,” the company has indicated its goal to integrate ESG principles into management strategies, and is promoting activities that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) through the company’s business activities. Digital-technology use and technology-development efforts with partners will contribute to the below goals.