Trans-ocean autonomous vessel voyage completed successfully

Avikus, a subsidiary of HD Hyundai (formerly Hyundai Heavy Industries), reports that it has successfully carried out the autonomous navigation of a 180,000m2 ultra-large LNG carrier on a trans-ocean voyage from the Gulf of Mexico in the US to South Korea.

The vessel PRISM COURAGE, operated by fellow Korean company SK Shipping, was equipped with HiNAS 2.0, Avikus’ Level 2 autonomous navigation system. Level 2 autonomy refers to systems that are autonomously or remotely controlled on board the ship while seafarers are on board, and not a vessel that is unmanned.

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 arrived at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Chungcheong Province in Korea after 33 days. The vessel sailed half of the approximately 20,000 kilometres total distance using the autonomous systems.

Artificial intelligence software within the HiNAS 2.0 set-up is used to recognise the surrounding environment, such as weather and wave heights as well as nearby ships, and the system then controls the vessel’s steering commands in real-time, creating its own optimal routes and speeds. The Level 2 technology can control and operate the ship in addition to its situational awareness functionality.

In this test crossing, the PRISM COURAGE operated autonomously on its calculated optimal routes, which are estimated to have increased fuel efficiency by around 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% percent. The system also accurately recognised the locations of nearby ships to avoid collision about 100 times, Avikus says.

This voyage was monitored in real-time by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korean Register of Shipping (KR) to verify the performance and stability of the technology. Avikus plans to commercialise HiNAS 2.0 later this year once it receives certification from ABS for the results of this ocean crossing.

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

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Rob O'Dwyer

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