CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
May 22, 2019
Forward Thinking

MOL plots course for autonomous ships

Research looks at ways to improve fleet navigation and safety.

If you drive a late-model car, you're undoubtedly familiar with such advanced automotive safety features as lane departure warnings, automatic braking, and blind-spot warnings. Now, one of Japan's three main shipping groups, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL), is launching a project to develop comparable capabilities for its giant containerships.

The company has announced a research partnershipaimed at developing an advanced navigation support system for its fleet. The study will lay the groundwork for developing autonomous ships of the future as well as improving navigation for conventional ships, MOL said.

MOL's research will focus on the technological concepts of Obstacle Zone by Target (OZT) and Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), two navigation support systems that will help sailors avoid collisions through a visual display of potential risks, the company said.

The initiative will complement MOL's "Ishin Next" smart ship project, which shares the goal of ensuring safe, reliable transport services, the company said. Partners in the research program include MOL Techno-Trade Ltd.; the National Institute of Maritime, Port, and Aviation Technology; and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

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