Photo: Courtesy of HD Hyundai

Hyundai Heavy conducts world’s first transoceanic voyage of LNG carrier on autonomous navigation

Avikus, a subsidiary of HD Hyundai, has carried out autonomous navigation of a large LNG carrier Prism Courage across the ocean, becoming the first company to do so.

LNG carrier Prism Courage in world’s first transoceanic voyage on autonomous navigation
Courtesy of HD Hyundai

Together with SK Shipping, Avikus, which specializes in autonomous navigation, said on 2 June that it had successfully completed autonomous navigation of the Prism Courage.

The vessel is a 180,000 square-meter-class ultra-large LNG carrier. It features HiNAS 2.0, Avikus’ autonomous navigation solution.

According to HD Hyundai, 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 coast of the Gulf of Mexico on 1 May, passed through the Panama Canal, and finally arrived at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Chungcheong Province in Korea. The trip took 33 days. The LNG carrier sailed half of roughly 20,000 kilometres in total distance with the autonomous navigation technology.

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 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.

On this voyage, the vessel was operated autonomously on the optimal routes, increasing the fuel efficiency by around seven perc ent while reducing GHG emissions by about five per cent. Also, the system accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships during operation to avoid collision about 100 times.

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

This technology is drawing attention as an innovative technology for future maritime mobility. According to global market research firm Acute Market Reports, the autonomous navigation ships and related equipment market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 12.6 per cent, reaching $235.7 billion in 2028.

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Captain Young-hoon Koh of the ship said, “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 said, “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.