JMS Conducts World’s First Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Trial Based on IMO Guidelines

In September 2019, JMS has conducted the world’s first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) trial performed in accordance with the IMO’s Interim Guidelines for MASS trials* by using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR) **.

<About the MASS Trial> 

Iris Leader, a large NYK-operated PCTC having a gross tonnage of 70,826 tons, was navigated day and night using the Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR), i.e. Automatic Avoidance Program during the period from 14 to 17 September from Xinsha, China, to Nagoya, Japan, and then from Nagoya to Yokohama, Japan, from 19 to 20 September. Crew performed typical duties during the navigations, which included Japan’s coastal area but excluded bays.

During the trial, the SSR’s performance in actual sea conditions was monitored as it collected information on environmental conditions around the ship from radar and AIS, calculated collision risk, automatically determined optimal routes and speeds that were safe and economical, and then automatically navigated the ship. Using data and experience gained through this trial but not obtainable through onshore simulators.

JMS will analyze the data obtained through experiments, and continue to improve the ship handling support technology, such as adjusting the balance of sophisticated judgments derived from programs and flexible judgments derived by humans.

We aim to contribute to solving social issues in the shipping industry, such as improving safety and labor shortage, as technologies that can be the basis for various types of automated navigation.

Video of the Trial


* IMO’s Interim Guidelines for MASS trials

IMO outlines autonomous ship trial guidelines in June, 2019. This trial follows the guidelines and is conducted with approval from Panama, flag State, and notified the ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Japan Coast Guard related to coastal State.


** Sherpa System for Real ship (SSR)

This system navigates a vessel by calculating optimal routes based on environmental conditions with incorporating knowledge and perceptions by experienced captains to JMS’s traffic simulation program.

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