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8th June 2022

First ocean crossing by autonomous cargo ship

Avikus – a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate HD Hyundai – has conducted the autonomous navigation of a large ship across the ocean, becoming the first company in the world to do so.

 

First ocean crossing by autonomous cargo ship
The LNG carrier PRISM COURAGE, which Hyundai Heavy Industries built in 2021 and delivered to SK Shipping (PRNewsfoto/Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group)

 

Avikus collaborated with SK Shipping, another South Korean company, to achieve the autonomous navigation of a 122,000 tonne ultra-large LNG carrier named PRISM COURAGE, equipped with HiNAS 2.0, Avikus' Level 2 autonomous navigation solution.

PRISM COURAGE departed from Freeport, Texas, on 1st May. It passed through the Panama Canal, and then crossed the Pacific Ocean, finally arriving at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, after a journey of 33 days. The vessel sailed more than 10,000 km (6,210 miles).

HiNAS 2.0 creates optimal routes and speeds based on Hyundai Global Service's Integrated Smartship Solution. Its artificial intelligence can recognise the surrounding environment – weather and wave heights, as well as nearby ships, and then controls the vessel's steering commands in real-time. The Level 2 technology can control and operate the ship in addition to the functions of recognition and judgment.

In this test crossing, the PRISM COURAGE operated autonomously on the optimal routes, increasing its fuel efficiency by 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. The system avoided potential collisions about 100 times, by accurately recognising nearby ships.

 

First ocean crossing by autonomous cargo ship
Credit: HD Hyundai

 

This voyage was conducted under real-time monitoring of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korea Register of Shipping to verify the performance and stability of the technology. Avikus plans to commercialise HiNAS 2.0 within this year after receiving a certification from ABS for the results of this self-piloted ocean crossing.

"It is meaningful that we successfully tested the Level 2 system," said Do-hyeong Lim, Avikus CEO. "We will lead innovation by upgrading autonomous navigation solutions not only for large merchant ships but also for small leisure boats."

Autonomous navigation is drawing attention as an innovative technology for maritime mobility. Last November, the first electric and self-propelled container ship – Yara Birkeland – sailed 65 km around part of Norway. PRISM COURAGE is four times the length, 30 times heavier, and its journey across the Pacific exceeded that of Yara Birkeland by 150 times. In the future, AI-controlled ships could solve workforce shortages in the maritime transportation industry, reduce pollutants, and improve safety by completely removing the possibility of human errors.

 

 

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