Japanese autonomous ship project gets AiP from ClassNK

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Classification Society ClassNK has granted an Approval in Principle (AiP) to NYK Line and MTI for their joint project on the concept design of an autonomous ship framework APExS.

APExS is an acronym for Action Planning and Execution System. NYK describes this framework for realising Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) as including high-speed computer-based information processing technology and risk analyses that support crew members’ situational awareness and the decision-making necessary for manoeuvring. In fact, the computer will execute manoeuvring operations under the crew’s approval.

NYK says this the first time an autonomous ship framework has been approved in Japan. Based on this framework, NYK plans to further deepen its cooperation with domestic and overseas partners for the development of autonomous ship technology that contributes to advanced safe operation.

ClassNK is involved in various demonstration projects and continuously works to develop necessary safety standards in order to support the development and implementation of automated/autonomous operation technologies from a safety perspective. In January 2020, the Society released its “Guidelines for Automated/Autonomous Operation of ships” which comprehensively summarise the requirements for each stage of conceptual design, design development, installation, and maintenance during the operation of automated/autonomous operation technologies.

Jointly with NYK Line and MTI, ClassNK verified the safety of system usage conditions, fall back systems, and more toward the development of the autonomous ship framework. The AiP was then granted upon confirming the feasibility of the framework through safety evaluation in line with the above guidelines.

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