NYK in remote tug operation tests

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 22 May 2020


Japanese ship operator NYK and its group companies MTI, Keihin Dock, and Japan Marine Science (JMS) have successfully tested the remote navigation of a tugboat as a part of the Japanese government’s Sea Trial Project on Remote Control Navigation.

The tests were conducted within Tokyo Bay on a tug equipped with a manned remotely controlled system. The tug was operated remotely from an operation centre in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture approximately 400 kilometers away. The vessel was manoeuvred approximately 12 kilometres in Tokyo Bay between an area off Honmoku and an area off the port of Yokosuka.

The operator in the remote operation centre was able to use sensors and cameras installed on the tug to recognise surrounding conditions and created a route plan and action plan (collision avoidance route plan). The operator shared the plans with the tugboat captain, who then approved them. The conditions that remotely navigated tugboat proceeded operations in accordance with the approved route plan and action plan were confirmed and evaluated.

Going forward, NYK and its group companies will work to overcome ship-to-shore communication issues that were revealed during this experiment, further improve the system, and aim to start remote navigation tests using domestic coastal ships within this year.

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