Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (HHIH) has successfully conducted a test-run of a fully autonomous cruise ship backed by its own autonomous navigation system and a local mobile operator’s 5G network. The 12-person cruise ship navigated through the narrow 10-kilometer Pohang Canal in the port city, 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
“The test-run marks the first success in South Korea and is significant in that the ship sailed with the autonomous navigation system without crew members’ control,” said an official from the shipbuilding behemoth.
The official said it is not technically equivalent to “degree four” of ship automation identified by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as crew members were on board for safe sailing. Degree four of a fully autonomous ship is the highest level of the degree of ship automation which refers to the stage that “the operating system of the ship is able to make decisions and determine actions by itself,” according to the IMO.
Avikus Corp., which led the sea trial of the fully autonomous cruise ship, plans to go on a sea trial of a large merchant ship using its autonomous navigation technologies in cooperation as early as the second half of this year, HHIH said.
KT, formerly Korea Telecom, South Korea’s largest telecommunications company, said its low-latency 5G network allowed the sending of real-time sensor data of the ship’s operations, including 360-degree video footage of the ship as well as LIDAR and radar information, allowing the ship to navigate autonomously. The telecom operator said it will continue to work with Avikus to develop new business models for autonomous ships.
KT bought a stake in Hyundai Heavy’s robotics unit last year, with the goal of strengthening its competitiveness in smart factory and robot solutions.