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Autonomous "Ghost" Cargo Ship Completes World's First Transoceanic Voyage

A large cargo ship has navigated a transoceanic voyage using just AI, making a world first.

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Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

clockJun 7 2022, 14:42 UTC
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The PRISM COURAGE. Image Credit: Hyundai Avikus

A large autonomous cargo ship has completed the world’s first transoceanic voyage navigating with AI, using an autonomous navigation solution developed by Avikus and HD Hyundai. The massive 180,000 square-meter-class vessel typically carries liquified natural gas (LNG), and traveled around 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of the voyage from the Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal and into a port in the South Chungcheong Province in Korea, using AI.

It took a total of 33 days, for which time the vessel navigated an optimal route for fuel efficiency and distance using the AI-based HiNAS 2.0 navigation system. 

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"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,” said Captain Young-hoon Koh of the PRISM COURAGE in a statement.

The HiNAS 2.0 system first creates an optimal route for the desired journey, before controlling the vessel’s steering and speed while accounting for changes in weather and any other incoming ships. According to Avikus, the navigation system reduces fuel consumption by around 7 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent.  

Following certification from the American Bureau of Shipping for autonomous ocean crossings, Avikus aims to push the system to market by the end of the year. 

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The system will not just be for large cargo vessels, but for smaller leisure boats too, should captains wish to adopt it. 

"It is meaningful that we have successfully tested the Level 2 system to operate a vessel beyond the Level 1 technology providing optimal routes," Avikus CEO Do-hyeong Lim said. 

"We will lead innovation by upgrading autonomous navigation solutions not only for large merchant ships but also for small leisure boats." 

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Autonomous ships hold both advantages and disadvantages over conventional vessels. Firstly, most maritime accidents are caused by “human error,” so computer systems could prove to be significantly safer captains compared to a human. No crew means the ships have more space for cargo, can be built lighter, and use less fuel.  

On the flip side, emerging technology brings new challenges, ranging from the threat of cyberattacks to reliability issues. As vessels are pushed into larger waters and longer voyages, a lack of crew members could leave them vulnerable to piracy, though fewer lives could be lost as a result. 


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