Photo courtesy Avikus

South Korean Company Claims World’s First Autonomous Ocean Crossing by a Large Ship

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 6313
June 7, 2022

An autonomous navigation company belonging to one of the world’s largest shipbuilders is claiming the trans-oceanic autonomous voyage of a large commercial ship.

Avikus, a subsidiary of HD Hyundai, announced the successful voyage of the LNG carrier Prism Courage from Freeport, Texas to South Korea’s Boryeong LNG Terminal, via the Panama Canal. The 33-day voyage covered roughly 10,800 nautical miles, of which half was navigated autonomously using Avikus’ HiNAS 2.0 technology.

Avikus’ HiNAS 2.0 is a navigation system that creates optimal routes and speeds using artificial intelligence that recognizes conditions such as weather and wave heights and nearby ships, and then controls the vessel’s steering commands in real-time.

The company said that during the voyage, the system accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships and maneuvered to avoid collision about 100 times. The company also said that by allowing the system to select the optimal route, the ship was able to increase its fuel efficiency by 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%.

“Avikus’ autonomous navigation technology was greatly helpful in this ocean-crossing test especially for maintaining navigating routes, autonomously changing directions, and avoiding nearby ships, which were all increasing ship crews’ work conveniences,” said Captain Young-hoon Koh, Master on board the Prism Courage.

The Panama-flagged Prism Courage, which has a LNG capacity of 180,000 cbm, measures 299 meters long is a operated by SK Shipping, South Korea’s largest LNG shipping company.

The trial voyage was conducted under the supervision and real-time monitoring by classification societies the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korean Register of Shipping (KR), which are verifying the performance and stability of the technology.

Avikus said it plans to commercialize the HiNAS 2.0 system “within this year” upon certification from ABS.

Avikus was launched in December 2020 as the first in-house venture of HD Hyundai, which previously went by the name Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, the holding company that controls South Korea’s biggest shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. The company says its autonomous navigation technology can help solve workforce shortages in the maritime industry, reduce pollutants, and improve safety by completely removing the possibility of human error.

“It is meaningful that we have successfully tested the Level 2 system to operate a vessel beyond the Level 1 technology providing optimal routes,” said Avikus CEO Do-hyeong Lim. “We will lead innovation by upgrading autonomous navigation solutions not only for large merchant ships but also for small leisure boats.”

Previously, Avikus succeeded in conducting the first fully autonomous operation of a 12-seater cruise ship in Korea. The company showcased the autonomous navigation technology at CES 2022 in January, the world’s largest electronics and IT show, and is now doubling down on its efforts to lead the way in advanced autonomous navigation technology for shipping.

According to Acute Market Reports, the market for such technology is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 12.65 to $235.7 billion in 2028.

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