AR navigation systems for 21 MOL VLCCs

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 23 April 2019


Japanese shipowner has announced its intention to install a navigation system using augmented reality (AR) technology jointly developed by Furuno Electric on 21 MOL Group-operated very large crude oil carriers (VLCCs).

The AR system displays information on other vessels sailing on a vessel's planned route and surrounding sea areas and other ocean conditions, such as shallow waters, on tablets and screens. It integrates information from the ship’s AIS and radar with real-time video images from the bridge camera in collaboration with Furuno Electric's ECDIS FMD3300 series. The system provides visual support to crewmembers during their watch-keeping and ship operations by using AR technology to superimposing real-time video imagery and voyage information.

It has already been installed on the first of MOL's next-generation FLEXIE Series car carrier, Beluga Ace delivered in March 2018, and the VLCC Suzukasan, delivered in October 2018 for the demonstration test.

MOL has continued to refine the AR display screen and verify the system's effectiveness. In officially commercialising the system under the Furuno Electric brand, it will be installed on MOL's VLCC fleet, a vessel type that requires the highest level of operating safety, with the goal of achieving an even greater margin of safety. Due to its deep draft, VLCC operations require special care when navigating on the waters such as the Straits of Singapore and Malacca, a heavily trafficked sea lane that has limited areas.

The project partners developed the system to support crewmembers, alerting them to other vessels they need to watch, the location of shallow waters, and so on, by displaying integrated real-time video images with information from nautical instruments on screens on the bridge even in congested sea lanes. The system will further enhance MOL's marine technical skills, moving the company toward its objective of becoming "the world leader in safe operation."

MOL will sequentially install the system in its energy transport fleet including LNG carriers, as well as its dry bulkers to provide seafarers with greater support in watch-keeping and ship operation during voyages and continue to refine and enhance its effectiveness. In addition, MOL expects this technology to play a key role in realising autonomous ships in the future.

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