MOL Starts Demonstration Test of Vessel Image Recognition System Using AI Technology on Nippon Maru
-FOCUS EYE Project, Rising to the Developing Automated Watch-keeping-
September 12, 2019
TOKYO-Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Junichiro Ikeda) announced the joint development, along with SenseTime Japan Ltd. (President: Shihong Lao; Headquarters: Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture)(Note 1), of a new vessel image recognition and recording system, and the system’s installation for demonstration testing aboard the cruise ship "Nippon Maru" operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Line, Ltd. (MOPAS; President: Naohiko Yamaguchi; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo). The system’s graphic recognition engine was developed by incorporating MOL’s knowledge and applying artificial intelligence (AI) deep learning technology, allowing it to recognize surrounding vessels. The system recognizes and automatically records vessels with high accuracy using a terminal equipped with a graphic processing unit (GPU) and ultrahigh-resolution cameras.
The image recognition technology, which can be used even at night or during other periods of poor visibility, can detect small vessels (*) that are not recognizable by vessel automatic identification systems (AIS). MOL views advanced image recognition as an underlying technology needed for automated watch-keeping, as the company works to realize the autonomous smart ships of the future.
* International treaty and domestic law require vessels to be equipped with AIS, but the regulations do not apply to ocean-going freighters of less than 300 gross tons and coastal vessels of less than 500 gross tons.
Since this system automatically records image data, MOL plans to carefully review the accumulated data and use it to further enhance the image recognition engine’s analysis accuracy.
MOL positions the navigation support system featuring image recognition, such as the AR voyage information display system (Note 2), which is already in practical use, as part of its challenge project, called the "FOCUS EYE" series (Note 3). The company continues to develop and modify the system, which supports crewmembers’ watch-keeping while underway, to enhance safe operation and speed up the automation of watch-keeping, with the long-term goal of realizing autonomous smart ships (please refer to Notes 4 and 5 and the figure below).
MOL has moved ahead with advanced support of safe operation and reduction of its environmental impact, as set out in the "ISHIN NEXT - MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT -," launched in November 2016, and aims to become the customers' first choice as a logistics partner by applying information and communications technology (ICT) to improve service quality and efficiency.
Sample display image from the vessel recognition/recording system
(Note 1) SenseTime Japan Ltd. is a global leading company in deep learning and computer vision, founded as Japan-based affiliate of SenseTime Group in 2016.
(Note 2) April 22, 2019 press release: MOL to Install AR Navigation System on 21 VLCCs - Supporting Watch-keeping and Ship Operation during Voyages to Ensure World-leading Level of Safety -
(Note 3) October 15, 2018 press release: Launching of the "FOCUS" Project - Collaborative Innovation Transcending Business Categories; ICT-based, Data-driven Project Aims at Safer Operation and Cleaner Environment -
(Note 4) December 21, 2018 press release: MOL Conducts Assessment and Feasibility Study of Advanced Navigation Support System Utilizing Collision Avoidance Algorithm -Initiative Leads to Automatic Prevention of Collisions; Marks Step toward Autonomous Sailing-
(Note 5) July 11, 2019 press release: Auto Berthing and Un-Berthing Demonstration Test Conducted