Within Tokyo Bay, a manned tugboat equipped with a remotely controlled system was operated remotely from the operation center in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture approximately 400 kilometers away.

In the previous test in January this year, the operator in the remote operation center used sensors and cameras equipped to the tugboat to recognize surrounding conditions,  and created a route plan and action plan for the remote control.

In this second test this time, the following two tests took place to respond to malfunctions of equipment or ship-shore communication.

Test for verification of fallback operation

This test aimed to confirm response functions to equipment malfunctions or interruptions of ship-shore communication.

In the test, a signal sent remotely to the ship to stop as quickly as possible, and automatically navigate at a reduced speed until the next waypoint, to ensure ship safety functions or maintaining limited usage of the ship in the situation of troubles of equipment or ship-shore communication.

Test for optimization of data communication amount

The purpose of this test was to confirm the optimization function of data communication amount depending on the available communication bandwidth for remote control.

To ensure stable remote maneuvering, the amount of communication needs to be automatically adjusted. For that reason, the transferring data amount of radar echo should be controlled according to available communication bandwidth so that it does not affect other data transmissions.

For remote control, it is necessary to monitor the position of the ship and nearby obstacles in real time, and communication interruption because the communication overload has to be avoided so that confirmation of this communication optimization function is indispensable.

NYK will now continue to improve the system using the knowledge from the two remote navigation tests and will keep collaborating with partners to realize remote control of large vessels.

In addition, it will share and develop the developed technologies for autonomous ships with crews and crewless autonomous ships that it is working on.