The ferry travels halfway across Japan… with no one piloting it

Unmanned cargo ship traveled from Hokkaido to Ibaraki and netizens have mixed feelings.

the Sunflower Shiretoko The ferry recently made a trip from Tomakomai Port in Hokkaido along the east coast of Japan to the Oarai Port Ferry Terminal in Ibaraki. It’s a trip the passenger/cargo ship makes regularly, but this trip got Japanese netizens in particular buzzing as no one was piloting the ship – that Ship was unmanned.

The ship made the voyage as part of the The Nippon Foundation’s MEGURI 2040 unmanned ship project, and the journey of the Sunflower Shiretoko is the first in the world be carried out without anyone at the helm. The ship was able to perform the autonomous trip, since in addition to the usual radar system it was equipped with one Augmented reality navigation systemand also used Visible light cameras and infrared cameras to detect other ships and avoid collisions.

And while the idea of ​​taking a cruise in a ship without a captain might seem cool to some, the unmanned ships will most likely to be used for the transportation of goodssince sea transport accounts for more than 80 percent of goods distribution between Hokkaido and Kanto (the main island of Japan).

The ship traveled 750 kilometers (466 miles) along Kanto’s east coast, and the journey took about 18 hours. MEGURI 2040 administrators hope this voyage will prove useful in aiding the safe navigation of ships in the future and reducing the workload of those working at sea.

But while the Nippon Foundation seemed pleased with the results, some Japanese netizens didn’t seem so thrilled.

“To be honest, I find that a bit scary, although I think it’s going to be a while before this gets approved.”
“These kinds of ships seem to take over easily.”
“Even if it’s only used as cargo, the thought of a ship without a crew is worrying.”
“What happens if the system fails?”

However, others were more accepting of the idea of ​​ships without a captain, comparing the situation to airplanes.

“Airplanes have used autopilots for years. I’ve always wondered why ships haven’t done the same.”
“So many people are unaware that airplanes are also quite unmanned. Aside from takeoff, landing and all emergencies, the captain and crew just relax in their seats.”
“In the future, all vehicles will be automated. Cars, buses, everything. This means fewer accidents happen.”

The successful voyage of the Sunflower Shiretoko means we’re likely to see many more of these unmanned vessels in the future, and chances are the unmanned vessel trend won’t stop there; After all, we might not need people working in convenience stores in the future either.

Source: PR Times via Otakomu
Images: PR Times
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