Classification society ClassNK has granted approval in principle (AiP) to NYK Line and its technology research arm MTI Co., Ltd. for an autonomous ship framework being developed under the name of APExS.
ClassNK reviewed the safety of the framework and certified the concept design on 20 February 2020. — the first time for an autonomous ship framework to be approved in Japan.
To develop an autonomous ship framework, NYK has been working with ClassNK to verify the safety of system usage conditions and fallback systems.
With respect to communication concerns between humans and computers, risk can be mitigated to an acceptable level and human error significantly diminished through proper design, procedures, and training, according to NYK.
The framework, APExS, is an acronym for Action Planning and Execution System. It includes high-speed computer-based information processing technology and risk analyses that support crew members’ situational awareness and the decision-making necessary for manoeuvring.
The framework identified five distinct types of operation, ranging from information collection, analysis, planning, approval and execution, giving the example of risk identification from a navigation perspective. Responsibility would be shared between the crew and the vessel’s computers, with the exception of the approval phase, which would be under human authority alone.
So, while the computer will execute manoeuvring operations, this will be made under the crew’s approval.
Based on this framework, NYK aims to further deepen its cooperation with domestic and overseas partners for the development of autonomous ship technology that contributes to advanced safe operation.