Fleet Operation Center Completed for Crewless Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship Project

Sep. 08, 2021

The DFFAS (Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship) project* comprising 30 Japanese companies including NYK and NYK Group companies Japan Marine Science Inc., MTI Co., Ltd., and Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd. has completed the construction of a fleet operation center (FOC) in Makuhari, Chiba city, to provide onshore support for crewless maritime autonomous surface ships. The FOC is part of a comprehensive system that covers the functions required for operation of crewless autonomous ships.

The DFFAS project is sponsored by the Joint Technological Development Programme for the Demonstration of Unmanned Ships** under the administration of the Nippon Foundation. With the support of the foundation, the project will aim to conduct a successful crewless maritime autonomous surface ship demonstration trial in order to advance the practical use of these ships by 2025.

Outline of Fleet Operation Center
The FOC will be staffed with operators who provide support from shore by collecting information from the ship, together with abundant information existing on shore, and monitoring and analyzing the operational status of the ship from the FOC. Additionally, the operator will be able to remotely navigate the vessel in case of an emergency.




Fleet Operation Center. Source: DFFAS CONSORTIUM.

Outline of DFFAS Project



The DFFAS project aims to realize a domestic coastal shipping business supported by crewless maritime autonomous surface ships, thus contributing to solving the issue of crew shortages by coastal shipping businesses. In this project, the NYK Group will make full use of the technology and experience so far cultivated in the technological development of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). The DFFAS project will work toward the standardization of technology and the establishment of systems and infrastructure through open collaboration. In fact, the project plans to carry out a demonstration trial in February 2022 in order to simulate the actual operation of crewless maritime autonomous surface ships in congested waters using a domestic coastal container ship toward the realization of the full-scale commercialization of these autonomous ships by 2025.


Demonstration trial. Image by NYK.



* Companies participating in the DFFAS project include Japan Marine Science Inc. (project leader); MTI Co., Ltd.; Ikous Corporation; BEMAC Corporation; Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.; SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation; Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.; Tokyo Keiki Inc.; Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation; NTT DOCOMO, Inc.; Japan Radio Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc.; Sunflame Co., Ltd.; Sanwa Dock Co., Ltd.; Suzuyo Marine Co., Ltd.; Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.; Weathernews Inc.; EIZO Corporation; Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited; NTT Communications Corporation; Japan Hamworthy Co., Ltd.; Japan Marine United Corporation; Nabtesco Corporation; Nippon Shipping Co., Ltd.; pluszero Inc.; Honda Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.; Miura Co., Ltd.; Nihon Shipyard Co., Ltd.; YDK Technologies Co., Ltd. and NYK. The DFFAS project will consider adding new participants as needed.



** A subsidization scheme to cultivate further momentum for technological development in the field of crewless maritime autonomous surface ships, promoting changes in logistics, economies, and social infrastructure in Japan, and supporting such technological development through the success of the world's first crewless autonomous operation trials by domestic coastal vessels.



On February 3, 2021, NYK released the NYK Group ESG Story, which aims to further integrate ESG into the company's management strategy and promotes activities that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) through business activities. To strongly promote ESG management, the NYK Group will actively develop technologies for MASS and crewless maritime autonomous surface ships and encourage new value creation as a sustainable solution provider.

Overview of Each Company

Japan Marine Science Inc.
Head Office: Kanagawa, Japan
Chief Executive Officer: Koichi Akamine
Website: https://www.jms-inc.jp/en

MTI Co., Ltd.
Head Office: Tokyo, Japan
President: Kazuo Ishizuka
Website: https://www.monohakobi.com/en/

Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.
Head Office: Tokyo, Japan
President: Kotaro Seki

NYK Group, press release