NYK and its group company MTI Co. Ltd. have received approval in principle (AiP) for an autonomous ship framework that is currently being developed under the name of "APExS." ClassNK, a classification society based in Japan, reviewed the safety of the framework and certified the concept design on February 20, 2020 the first time for an autonomous ship framework to be approved in Japan. Based on this framework, NYK will further deepen its cooperation with domestic and overseas partners for the development of autonomous ship technology that contributes to advanced safe operation.
It is said that about 80% of marine accidents are caused by human error, particularly insufficient watch-keeping and errors in ship maneuvering. In the past, we have worked to reduce these types of incidents through our safety management system (SMS) and BRM.* However, progress with computer technology has made it possible to further improve safety by combining the strengths of human experience with the attributes of computers. In this regard, we have developed a new operational system that achieves a high level of safe operation and assists vessel operators by making use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) technology, an R&D project conducted with domestic and overseas partners.
Outline of Autonomous Ship Framework
APExS is an acronym for “Action Planning and Execution System.” This framework for the realization of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) includes high-speed computer-based information processing technology and risk analyses that support crew members' situational awareness and the decision-making necessary for maneuvering. In fact, the computer will execute maneuvering operations under the crew's approval.