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HHI demonstrates fully autonomous navigation

Avikus, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group's newly established subsidiary specialised in autonomous navigation technology has become Korea's first company to succeed in fully autonomous navigation of a ship.

Avikus completed fully autonomous, unmanned operation of a cruise ship for 12 passengers at a demonstration event held on Wednesday June 16 in Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

The 10-kilometre-long Pohang Canal is known for complex and challenging navigating environments. The average width of its waterway is as narrow as 10 meters and the inner and outer ports are highly crowded.

Deploying state-of-the-art autonomous navigation technologies, such as HiNAS (Hyundai Intelligent Navigation Assistant System), which automatically recognises objects surrounding the vessel and route to alert the risk of collision based on augmented reality (AR), and HiBAS (Hyundai Intelligence Berthing Assistance System), which provides an around view of the ship when berthing or unberthing, Avikus demonstrated fully autonomous navigation of the ship throughout all stages from departure and sailing to return and docking.

Advanced navigation assistance systems, including special cameras and LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), a remote sensing technology that uses the pulse from a laser to collect measurements as adopted by a large number of autonomous vehicles, have achieved a higher level of autonomous functioning that allows ships, without the help of seafarers, to cope with various unexpected situations, such as adverse weather conditions, strong currents, and appearance of fishing boats.

Building on this successful demonstration, Avikus plans to spur its R&D efforts for autonomous navigation technologies and expand their application to all types of ships, including passenger ships and cargo ships.

Present at the demonstration event were representatives from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), Korea Maritime & Ocean University, and South Korean telecommunications company KT.

Avikus is planning for the world's first transoceanic voyage of a large merchant ship relying on autonomous navigation technologies in conjunction with a large local shipping company, possibly as early as in the second half of this year.

"We are poised to become the world's first to commercialise a self-sailing leisure boat next year, based on our fully autonomous navigation technologies successfully demonstrated," said Lim Do-hyeong, CEO of Avikus. "Through continued investments in R&D 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."

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