Orca AI to participate in second phase of Japanese fully autonomous ship project


Tel Aviv-based maritime technology company Orca AI is set to continue its successful collaboration with NYK Group subsidiary MTI and partners, leveraging its industry-leading automated watchkeeper in the second development stage of the MEGURI2040 project administered by the Nippon Foundation.

MTI, alongside sister entity Japan Marine Science Inc, is spearheading the Designing the Future of Fully Autonomous Ships Plus (DFFAS+) consortium comprising 51 Japan-based companies that will work together on the next phase of MEGURI2040.

The first phase of MEGURI2040 culminated in May 2022 with the successful autonomous trial voyage of the 749-gt NYK shortsea containership Suzaku in congested waters off Japan’s east coast. Equipped with Orca AI’s automated watchkeeper, to replace the human lookout, the vessel achieved 40 hours of navigation with complete autonomy, or around 98% of the voyage between Tokyo Bay and the port of Tsumatsusaka in Ise Bay.

Data from the integrated display was live streamed to the fleet operations centre in Tokyo, with the ship performing 107 collision avoidance manoeuvres and avoiding up to 500 other vessels en route.

Dr Hideyuki Ando (pictured), Director of MTI, commented: “Following the successful completion of the DFFAS project, we continue to develop autonomous navigational capabilities on the journey towards full autonomy. Orca AI’s advanced AI and computer vision technology have already proven to be key enablers of the safety of autonomous navigation, and we look forward to leveraging this cutting-edge technology in the DFFAS+ project.”

MEGURI2040 Phase Two will focus on demonstrating ship-shore operations using four different vessel types including a newly built container ship equipped with a fully autonomous operation system, an existing container ship, Ro-Ro vessel, and remote island route ship equipped for partial autonomous operations, as well as two fleet operation centres.