A newly established subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ (HHI) has successfully tested autonomous navigation technology on a passenger vessel
Avikus safely navigated a passenger vessel during a demonstration event in Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea.
During this trial, an unmanned vessel designed for carrying 12 passengers navigated along the 10-km Pohang Canal, which is known for complex and challenging navigating conditions and has an average width of just 10 m.
This trial was witnessed by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea Maritime & Ocean University and South Korean telecommunications company KT.
This vessel was equipped with autonomous navigation technologies for safe and collision-free navigation.
This includes Hyundai’s intelligent navigation assistant, HiNAS, which automatically recognises objects surrounding the vessel and along the route using augmented reality. This then alerts computers controlling navigation on the unmanned vessel of any collision risks.
Technologies on board also included Hyundai’s intelligent berthing assistant, HiBAS, which provides a full view of the ship when berthing or clearing.
These various systems enable Avikus to complete the fully autonomous navigation of the vessel throughout all stages of its voyage, from departure and sailing to return and docking.
Avikus used an array of sensors and assistance equipment during this test, including cameras and light detection and ranging (Lidar) devices.
Lidar is a remote sensing technology that uses laser pulses to collect measurements of nearby collision risks.
Building on this successful demonstration, Avikus intends to test autonomous navigation technologies on other passenger vessels and cargo ships.
HHI says Avikus is also planning the world’s first transoceanic voyage of a large merchant ship relying on autonomous navigation technologies.
It is working with a large South Korean shipping company to test this technology, possibly as early as Q4 2021.
“We are poised to become the world’s first to commercialise a self-sailing leisure vessel next year, based on our fully autonomous navigation technologies successfully demonstrated,” said Avikus chief executive Lim Do-hyeong.
“Through continued investments in research and development and talent, we will establish a position as a first-mover in the autonomous ships market, which is considered the ultimate destination for future maritime mobility technologies,” he said.
HHI launched Avikus in December 2020 to help advance and deepen the group’s technologies and expertise relating to autonomous shipping.
It is a market set for significant growth during this decade. According to global market research service provider, Acute, market reports, the market for autonomous ships and related equipment is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6%, reaching US$235.7 Bn by 2028.
There will be challenges in developing autonomous vessels for tranoceanic routes as the Mayflower project has encountered.
Mayflower, unmanned and mostly solar-powered set off from the UK this month, but encountered technical issues only after a few days sailing. It required retrieval and towage back to its base for appraisal and repairs.