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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Is Designing a Hybrid-Electric Carrier Called Roboship

Several Japanese companies have joined forces to contribute to the large-scale adoption of electric propulsion vessels. The first one will feature large-capacity batteries, versatile generators, and a cutting-edge digital platform.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industry revealed a rendering of its future hybrid-electric vessel 6 photos
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ShipMitsubishi Heavy Industries ShipMitsubishi Heavy Industries ShipMitsubishi Heavy Industries ShipMitsubishi Heavy Industries Ship
Most of us are familiar with Mitsubishi and Honda for their legacy in the automotive industry, but these brands are part of huge industrial groups involved in several sectors, including the maritime one. One of the most recent projects of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, part of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, is the design of a hybrid-electric vessel called Roboship, which will be built by Honda Heavy Industries.

The Roboship concept, a future 550-ton (499 tonnes) biomass fuel carrier for the Aioi Bioenergy Corporation, will replace the conventional diesel engine with a hybrid system. According to Mitsubishi, the system will be comprised of hardware elements, including batteries, propellers, motors, switchboards, and generators, plus the software element, namely a digital platform used to control the electric propulsion equipment.

The Roboship’s digital platform will be developed by Marindows, an e5 Lab project. E5 Lab was established by four shipping and trading companies, with the goal of promoting electric propulsion solutions, as well as digitalization tools, for ships. This is based on a strategic vision for the future, where the preservation of the natural environment goes hand in hand with the implementation of the latest digital technologies. Using advanced communication capabilities and other features, Marindows will make sure that the new hybrid-electric vessels operate safely and efficiently.

One of Roboship’s advantages will be that its versatile generators can use any type of eco-friendly fuel, including biofuel, synthetic fuel, ammonia, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and hydrogen. In conjunction with Mitsubishi’s innovative ship design, this will help reduce harmful emissions while cruising and completely avoid them during port operations, such as entering port, docking, and freight unloading. The vessel’s crew will also benefit from the electric propulsion system, thanks to the lower level of noise and vibration.

The future hybrid-electric carrier is expected to enter service in 2023.

Editor's note: Gallery showing various Mitsubishi Heavy Industries vessels

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