e5 Lab the Japanese consortium formed earlier this year by seven Japanese organisations including MOL, Mitsubishi and Asahi Tanker have announced that the organisation has started developing the ROBOSHIP, the standard models of electrically powered vessels to realise zero emissions.
In addition e5 Lab is working on an integrated system called the “ROBOSHIP BOX,” which brings together telecommunications, the Internet of Things (IoT), and software. Through this initiative, e5 Lab is working to address critical issues facing Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries, including a shortage of seafarers, environmental concerns, safety, and the sustainable growth of the shipbuilding/ship machinery sectors. With strategic partners in Japan and overseas, the development project team targets the commercialisation of electric-powered merchant vessels that adopt world-class propulsion systems at the most competitive price in the global market.
The team developed two types of electric vessels in the ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0, with standard gross tonnage specifications — 499 tons and 749 tons. They will be able to achieve the same speed and sailing range as vessels currently in service, while achieving zero-emission operation in port, due to the large-capacity storage batteries in combination with a diesel-powered generator. These vessels will achieve higher energy efficiency than other vessels in service with the e5 Lab partners’ knowledge and experience, as well as the world’s most efficient electric devices (DC grids, PM motors, AI technology).
E5 Lab says the ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 can significantly reduce not only the workload of seafarers, but also lower the risk of mechanical problems and decrease maintenance costs, because the motors are powered only by electricity. The team’s current target is to keep construction costs less than 5% above the cost of comparable existing vessels. The ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 is slated for delivery within 2022.
e5 Lab, along with the partners, will promote the ROBOSHIP and accelerate maritime digital transformation (DX) by offering the ROBOSHIP BOX as well as the EV powertrain, which is a key technology of the ROBOSHIP, to all interested shipyards and shipowners. The ROBOSHIP BOX is the foundation that connects the vessel and shore and enables shore-side support using digital technology. The broad application of the ROBOSHIP and ROBOSHIP BOX will realise competitive and value-added vessels from various aspects such as environmental friendliness, economy, quality, and performance, with the goal achieving a transition to electric vessels and digitalisation in the ocean shipping and maritime industries.