LNG carrier completes landmark autonomous voyage

Written by Nick Blenkey
autonomous navigation hardware

Prism Courage captain and bridge team examine the Avikus HiNAS 2.0 autonomous navigation system aboard the ship [Photo © HD Hyundai]

In a world first, the 180,000 cu.m LNG carrier Prism Courage arrived at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Korea today after completing a 33 day voyage from the Freeport LNG terminal, Texas, using autonomous navigation.

Delivered to South Korea’s SK Shipping last year by shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries, the ship is equipped with the HiNAS 2.0, Level 2 autonomous navigation solution developed by Avikus, a subsidiary of HD Hyundai.

The vessel sailed half of the roughly 20,000 kilometers voyage utilizing the HiNAS 2.0 autonomous navigation technology.

HiNAS 2.0 creates optimal routes and speeds based on Hyundai Global Service’s Integrated Smartship Solution (ISS). Its artificial intelligence recognizes the surrounding environment, including weather, wave heights, and nearby ships, and then controls the vessel’s steering commands in real-time. In the landmark ocean crossing, Prism Courage equipped was operated autonomously on the optimal routes created by HiNAS 2.0, increasing the fuel efficiency by around 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%. Also, the system accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships during operation to avoid potential collisions over 100 times.

This voyage was conducted under real-time monitoring by American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korea Register of Shipping (KR) to verify the performance and stability of the technology. After receiving ABS certification of the voyage results, Avikus has plans to commercialize HiNAS 2.0 during the current year.

Autonomous navigation technology is gaining increasing attention thanks to its potential for addressing shipping workforce shortages, reducing pollutants, and improving safety by removing the possibility of human errors.

The master of the Prism Courage, Captain Young-hoon Koh, 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.”

“It is meaningful that we have successfully tested the Level 2 system to operate a vessel beyond the Level 1 technology providing optimal routes,” said Avikus CEO Do-hyeong Lim. “We will lead innovation by upgrading autonomous navigation solutions not only for large merchant ships but also for small leisure boats.”

Avikus was launched by Hyundai Heavy Industries in December 2020 and succeeded in conducting the first fully autonomous operation of a 12-passenger cruise vessel in Korea. In January of this year, it showcased the autonomous navigation technology at CES 2022, the world’s largest electronics and IT show, and is now redoubling its efforts to advance autonomous navigation technology by, among other things, cooperating with ABS on step-by-step basic certification of ship autonomous navigation technology.

Categories: News, Shipping Tags: , , , , , ,