The capacity for Intelligent Awareness and machine learning technologies to significantly improve navigational safety has been verified by Rolls-Royce and Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), following the success of a pilot project aboard a 165m passenger ferry, Sunflower Gold.
Results from sea trials on the vessel, which operates night-time sailings between Kobe and Oita, Japan, found that the navigating officers were able to visually detect objects that would otherwise have been cloaked by the blackness of night.
The vessel navigates the Akashi Kaikyo, Bisan Seto and Kurushima Straits, some of the most challenging routes in the world. However, operations are more difficult during night-time crossings when these routes become heavily congested with fishing nets and small to mid-sized fishing vessels.
Iiro Lindborg, Rolls-Royce, General Manager Remote & Autonomous Solutions, said: “During the trials the Intelligent Awareness system was able to detect all potential navigational obstacles, allowing the crew to mitigate against any safety risks during night crossings.”
Rolls-Royce installed an array of Intelligent Awareness sensors, thermal imaging cameras and its revolutionary Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system on the vessel in April 2018, following the 2017 signing of a joint development agreement with MOL.
The technology was fused together to give the vessel’s bridge team day-time-like situational awareness of the surrounding area, providing enhanced decision-making capability and improving the safety of the vessel.