Hyundai makes small steer without man but a giant one for autonomous ships
Hyundai’s heavy industries division Avikus claims to have completed the world’s first autonomous navigation of a large ship across the ocean, sailing from the Gulf of Mexico to South Korea.
Avikus, which specialises in autonomous navigation, and the shipping freight firm SK Shipping, jointly announced the successful completion of the voyage, undertaken by the ultra-large, liquefied natural gas carrier, Prism Courage.
The 180,000 square-meter LGN ship was equipped with Avikus’s AI-powered HiNAS 2.0, which Hyundai claims can create optimal routes and speeds based on Hyundai Global Service’s integrated smartship solution.
The Level 2 self-steering tech claims to 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 system was used to steer the vessel for half of its 20,000KM journey. The other half of the test crossing still required human navigation and most of the route was in the open sea.
Nonetheless, the achievement represents an important step for autonomous shipping: Hyundai claims that its system accurately recognised the locations of nearby ships to avoid collision about 100 times during the test crossing.
The Korean auto brand added that the use of its autonomous navigation tech on journey resulted in an increase in fuel efficiency by around 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%.
The vessel 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 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.
Hyundai Heavy industries group founded Avikus last year and took its branding from the old Viking name Avviker, meaning pioneer.
Avikus now has plans to commercialize HiNAS 2.0 within the year, after receiving a certification from ABS for the results of the self-propelled crossing.
According to Avikus CEO Do-hyeong Lim the ambition now is to install the autonomous Level 2 system “not just in large merchant ships but also in small leisure boats”.
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