ABS approves fully autonomous ship framework for Monohakobi Technology Institute and Japan Marine Science


The design of a pioneering, fully autonomous ship framework has received approval in principle (AIP) from ABS.
The fully autonomous ship framework named APExS-auto (Action Planning and Execution System for full autonomous) was developed by Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI) and Japan Marine Science Inc. (JMS) as part of the fully autonomous ship program MEGURI 2040.

ABS worked with MTI and JMS to review the APExS-auto framework in accordance with the ABS ‘Requirements for Autonomous and Remote-Control Functions’. The APExS-auto framework is designed using a systems engineering approach to govern berth-to-berth autonomous navigation operations. It covers the full spectrum of operations from onboard activities to supervision activities in the remote operations centre.

“ABS is leading the industry with comprehensive analysis and support of autonomous projects from pioneers like MTI and JMS.,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “This is an exciting time for innovation and technology breakthroughs in maritime.

“ABS understands that autonomous systems are not stand-alone products but fully integrated with vessel infrastructure and the result of numerous advancements in a wide variety of mechanisms including sensors, imaging, connectivity, machine learning and application of systems engineering in ship design.”

“We are grateful for the AIP of our fully autonomous ship framework APExS-auto from ABS,” said Dr. Hideyuki Ando, Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ships (DFFAS)+Project Subdirector, Director, MTI Co., Ltd. “We have been working on the system design of autonomous ships utilizing the Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach and believe that the AIP is significant in that it validates our thinking and approach in light of the framework of ABS, which has deep knowledge of the safety of complex systems, including autonomous ships, and in that it establishes a communication between us and ABS for the future practical application of the autonomous navigation system.”

“Sufficient risk assessment is essential for the development and introduction of complex systems of systems such as autonomous ships,” said Captain Satoru Kuwahara, DFFAS+Project Director, JMS Executive Officer and General Manager of Marine Technical Group. “The development of an appropriate and reasonable risk assessment framework is necessary for the social implementation of autonomous ships, and we believe that this collaboration with ABS is a milestone towards this end.”

The AIP provides a roadmap for autonomous vessels complying with the APExS-auto framework to qualify for possible ABS classification notations such as AUTONOMOUS (NAV, MNV, RO3) for navigation, manoeuvring, collision detection and collision avoidance. ABS will continue to work together with MTI and JMS on their journey as they refine the framework for application on real use case vessels.