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NYK gains ClassNK and Bureau Veritas approval for autonomous ship framework

APExS-auto was designed as an extension of the crewed autonomous ship framework.

Nippon Yūsen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) Line, along with group firms MTI and Japan Maritime Science, has secured approval in principle (AiP) from the Japanese and French classification societies ClassNK and Bureau Veritas for its fully autonomous ship framework.

The AiP was awarded for the Action Planning and Execution System for Full Autonomous (APExS-auto) framework.


Administrated by the Nippon Foundation as part of the fully autonomous ship project ‘MEGURI2040’, the Joint Technological Development Programme for the Demonstration of Fully Autonomous Ships was designed to address labour shortages and marine accidents due to human error.

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The Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship (DFFAS) consortium is involved in the project to accelerate technological development for fully autonomous ships.

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The consortium consists of 30 Japanese firms, including NYK and NYK Group companies Japan Marine Science and MTI.

The initiative included the APExS-auto extending the crewed autonomous ship framework into a fully autonomous ship framework.

The crewed autonomous ship’s framework comprises high-speed computer-based information processing technology as well as risk analysing to provide crew members with situational awareness and help in decision-making for manoeuvring.


APExS-auto is said to help make the computer an active supporter of the crew and offer increased sophistication to functions.

NYK selected a development method known as model-based design, a familiar development method in the automotive industry, for APExS-auto.

In a statement, NYK Line said: “The NYK Group will continue to make full use of APExS-auto to develop autonomous ship technology that contributes to advancing safe operations by further deepening cooperation and collaboration with domestic and overseas partners.”

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Separately, NYK announced that it has participated in a DFFAS trial to simulate the actual operation of the fully autonomous ship for 790km between Tokyo Bay and Ise Bay. The trial was carried out between 26 February and 1 March.

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Earlier this month, NYK Line, along with Elomatic and MTI, completed concept design development for an ammonia-fuel-ready liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fuelled vessel (ARLFV).

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