e5 Lab launches ROBOSHIP project to promote zero-emission electric vessels

Source: press release, 24 August 2020

Powertrain System on Standard Models of Electrically Powered Vessels ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 (illustration: e5 Lab)

e5 Lab Inc. has announced that the company – aiming to realise a sustainable society – has started developing the ROBOSHIP, the standard models of electrically powered vessels to realise zero emissions, as well as an integrated system called the “ROBOSHIP BOX”, which brings together telecommunications, the Internet of Things (IoT), and software. Through this initiative, e5 Lab is working to address critical issues facing Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries, including a shortage of seafarers, environmental concerns, safety, and the sustainable growth of the shipbuilding/ship machinery sectors. With strategic partners in Japan and overseas, the development project team targets the commercialisation of electric-powered merchant vessels that adopt world-class propulsion systems at the most competitive price in the global market.

Developing standard models of electric vessels, ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 – thoroughly committing to cost competitiveness
The team developed two types of electric vessels in the ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0, with standard gross tonnage specifications – 499 tonnes and 749 tonnes. They will be able to achieve the same speed and sailing range as vessels currently in service, while achieving zero-emission operation in port, due to the large-capacity storage batteries in combination with a diesel-powered generator. These vessels will achieve higher energy efficiency than other vessels in service with the e5 Lab partners’ knowledge and experience, as well as the world’s most efficient electric devices (DC grids, PM motors, AI technology).

The ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 can significantly reduce not only the workload of seafarers, but also lower the risk of mechanical problems and decrease maintenance costs, because the motors are powered only by electricity. The team’s current target is to keep construction costs less than 5% above the cost of comparable existing vessels. The ROBOSHIP Ver. 1.0 is slated for delivery within 2022.

Electric vessel, DX accelerate evolution of ocean shipping and maritime affairs with ROBOSHIP BOX
e5 Lab, along with the partners, will promote the ROBOSHIP and accelerate maritime digital transformation (DX) by offering the ROBOSHIP BOX as well as the EV powertrain, which is a key technology of the ROBOSHIP, to all interested shipyards and shipowners. The ROBOSHIP BOX is the foundation that connects the vessel and shore and enables shore-side support using digital technology. The broad application of the ROBOSHIP and ROBOSHIP BOX will realise competitive and value-added vessels from various aspects such as environmental friendliness, economy, quality, and performance, with the goal achieving a transition to electric vessels and digitalisation in the ocean shipping and maritime industries.

e5 Lab and its partners will continue to develop and market the ROBOSHIP, fostering sustainable development in Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries and fueling the creation of new values.

Main characteristics of standard models of ROBOSHIP:

  1. Maximise value to shipowners: Not only solve urgent issues—measures for environmental protection, efficiency of logistics—for shipowners, but also offer cost benefits to shipowners at the same cost as current ships.
  2. Maximise environmental performance/value: Can build electric vessels with excellent environmental performance at the same cost as current vessels. Measures not only for zero emissions (CO2, Sox, NOx, PM) in ports and harbours, but also comply with full zero emissions by converting to low environmental burden power generators in the future.
  3. Maximise economic value: Can offer a top-quality, cutting-edge product in which Japan excels, at the largest scale and with price competitiveness, through standardisation, which is a general business model in other industries. Everyone can leverage cutting-edge technologies by offering them as a package of such as telecommunication, software, IoT, and AI (ROBOSHIP BOX), and this will accelerate innovation. e5 Lab will offer an open platform leveraging cutting-edge technologies.
  4. Maximise industrial value: Offer a new growth engine for Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries that face many difficult issues, through standardised, cutting-edge electric vessels and the platform. e5 Lab will spur innovation in Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries, making them growth industries that will drive the nation’s economy, by offering not only technologies and products, but also new value and a new business model.
  5. Maximise future value: Provide the integrated digital platform “ROBOSHIP BOX”, which packages “offshore high-speed communication”, “ship common OS ‘Marindows’ (tentative name)”, “security/AI/robotics”, “automation/remote system”, “onboard IoT infrastructure system” and “applications” (safety, medical, management) for seafarers/shipowners/ship management companies. Create new values and business opportunities by continually updating the vessels and peripheral infrastructure system.