The “world’s first” autonomous commercial cargo ship has completed a near-500-mile voyage in Tokyo Bay’s congested waters, travelling 99 per cent of the journey without human assistance. The 749 GT ship, “Suzaka”, was propelled by Orca AI’s software which assisted the ship in avoiding many collisions on its own.
Ships are not being left behind as the globe marches toward transportation automation. A large ferry in Japan sailed autonomously earlier this year, and now a commercial cargo ship has done the same. The latter was made possible by the software developed by an Israeli startup for sea navigation.
Orca AI announced the successful voyage of Suzaka, which began in Tokyo Bay. The 749 GT vessel covered a distance of 426.5 Nautical Miles in 40 hours. The cargo ship “Suzaka” was chosen for the trials by the “Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship” (DFFAS) project of the NYK Group.
Suzaka accomplished 107 collision avoidance manoeuvres without human assistance during its 500-mile journey. In addition, Suzaka reportedly evaded 400-500 other vessels on the water during its outward journey alone, according to the programme director.
Related: Video: How The Arrival Of Autonomous Ships Will Impact The Seafarers
The cargo ship’s safety navigation system, according to Orca AI, was set up to act as a “human watchkeeper,” delivering real-time detection, tracking, classification, and range calculation on eighteen onboard cameras integrated to provide a 360° view, day and night.
Orca AI’s algorithms are AI and deep learning-based, and they were trained on Suzaka data for over a year before the voyage. As a result, the software was able to identify targets in the complex Japanese coastline environment. In addition, the real-time data from the autonomous cargo ship’s cameras was watched hundreds of kilometers away at the fleet operations centre in Tokyo.