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Japan to launch auto-piloting ships by 2025

Staff Writer |
Japan's shipping companies are working with shipbuilders to develop self-navigating ships that could be in service by 2025, Japanese media reported earlier this week.

Participating shipbuilders plan to build around 250 self-piloting ships, which will use "the artificial-intelligence-driven steering system" to plot the safest, shortest and most fuel-efficient route, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

The artificial intelligence system can gather and analyze data about weather at sea, dangerous obstacles and shipping information, it said.

The smart ships would also predict onboard malfunctions and other troubles, which would help in avoiding maritime accidents, it added.

By implementing fully autonomous shipping in the future, the current amount of roughly 2,000 maritime accidents per year could be cut by half, said the Review.

However, developing such technology is estimated to cost at least tens of billions of Japanese yen, or hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Participating shipping firms, including the country's leading companies like Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen, plan to split costs and share expertise.

The collaboration between shippers and shipbuilders is intended to help Japan take the lead in developing self-navigating technology for which demand worldwide is expected to grow, said the Review.

Suffering from a slipping global share, Japan's shipbuilders aim to stage a comeback using the technology and potentially claim around 30 percent of the market, up from roughly 20 percent now, it said.

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