Avikus, a subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HD Hyundai), has successfully carried out the autonomous navigation of a large ship across the ocean, becoming the first company in the world to accomplish such a feat.
Together with SK Shipping, Avikus, which specializes in autonomous navigation, announced on June 2 that it had successfully completed autonomous navigation of Prism Courage, a 180,000 square-meter-class ultra-large LNG carrier.
The vessel is equipped with HiNAS 2.0, Avikus’ Level 2 autonomous navigation solution. This transoceanic voyage is the world’s first case of a vessel using autonomous navigation technology.
The Prism Courage departed from the Freeport on the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on May 1, passed through the Panama Canal, and finally arrived at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Chungcheong Province in Korea after 33 days.
The vessel sailed half of roughly 20,000 kilometers in total distance with the autonomous navigation technology HiNAS 2.0.
Avikus’ HiNAS 2.0 is the navigation system that creates optimal routes and speeds based on Hyundai Global Service’s Integrated Smartship Solution (ISS).
Its artificial intelligence recognizes the surrounding environment, such as weather and wave heights, and nearby ships, and then controls the vessel’s steering commands in real-time.
The Level 2 autonomous navigation technology can control and operate the ship in addition to the functions of recognition and judgment (Level 1 autonomous navigation technology).
In this ocean crossing, the Prism Courage equipped with HiNAS 2.0 was operated autonomously on the optimal routes, increasing the fuel efficiency by around 7 percent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5 percent.
Also, the system accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships during operation to avoid collision over 100 times.
This voyage was conducted under real-time monitoring of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korea Register of Shipping (KR) to verify the performance and stability of the technology.
Avikus plans to commercialize HiNAS 2.0 within this year after receiving a certification from ABS for the results of this self-propelled ocean crossing.
Autonomous navigation technology is drawing attention as an innovative technology for future maritime mobility because it can solve workforce shortages in the maritime transportation industry, reduce pollutants, and improve safety by completely removing the possibility of human errors.
According to Acute Market Reports, a global market research firm, the autonomous navigation ships and related equipment market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 12.6 percent, reaching $235.7 billion in 2028.
Captain Young-hoon Koh of the Prism Courage says: “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.”
Avikus CEO Do-hyeong Lim says: “It is meaningful that we have successfully tested the Level 2 system to operate a vessel beyond the Level 1 technology providing optimal routes.
“We will lead innovation by upgrading autonomous navigation solutions not only for large merchant ships but also for small leisure boats.”
Avikus was launched in December 2020 as the first in-house venture of Hyundai Heavy Industries Group. It succeeded in conducting the first fully autonomous operation of a 12-seater cruise ship in Korea.
In January of this year, it showcased the autonomous navigation technology at CES 2022, the world’s largest electronics and IT show, and is now redoubling its efforts to advance autonomous navigation technology before others by, for instance, cooperating with ABS for step-by-step basic certification of ship autonomous navigation technology.