When working in the marine industry, the name of the game is reducing error. Minimizing mistakes creates safer operations and saves time and money. Recently, organizations within the industry have focused on removing one particular type of error in an effort to improve operations: human error. 

To help reduce human error, they are shifting to robotics and autonomous technology. The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has worked with Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (HHI) on the design of vessels incorporating four areas of autonomous functions: navigation, machinery health management, firefighting management and network infrastructure.

Daehyuk Kim, Avikus
(Source: Avikus)

“We wanted a system to assist the decision-making of the captains and officers, so instead of making equipment… We do not compete with the existing systems or equipment. We don’t want to replace the existing equipment”—Daehyuk Kim, Avikus

Avikus, a subsidiary of HHI that specializes in autonomous function, also received approval from ABS to use their HiNAS 2.0 navigation system in all new marine construction vessels. Earlier this year, Avikus successfully used the HiNAS 2.0 to carry out a 20,000 km autonomous navigation mission. According to an ABS press release, this software will be “standard application for all new construction vessels at HHI group beginning next year.”

“Most of the companies and the consortiums are developing their own solutions for autonomous navigation, but they are all focused on the development of new functions about autonomous navigation. They want to develop, enhance or upgrade their existing navigation equipment to fulfill a level of autonomy,” Daehyuk Kim, team leader and senior researcher at Avikus, said. “But our strategy is different compared with other companies.

"We wanted a system to assist the decision-making of the captains and officers, so instead of making equipment, we make a kind of software so our system only interfaces with the existing equipment to make a control signal or feedback signal,” he added.

“We do not compete with the existing systems or equipment,” he continued. “We don’t want to replace the existing equipment, but replace human decisions and actions.”

Automation technologies

Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the R&D center of HHI Group’s shipbuilding sector, has obtained ABS approval for three new technologies relating to automation for their ships: Hyundai Intelligent Condition Based Maintenance system (HiCBM), Hyundai Intelligent Camera Based Alarm Monitoring system (HiCAM) and autonomous platform Pont.OS. The first of these, the HiCBM, is a machinery automation system.

HiCBM “provides the ability to monitor the status of major machineries, including the main engine, generating engine and other rotating machineries,” Hyungtaek Kim, team leader and senior researcher at KSOE, said. “It monitors the status of the machinery not only based on rules and regulations, but also on the data and AI [artificial intelligence] technologies.”

Avikus autonomous navigation
Avikus demonstrating its autonomous navigation at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. (Source: Avikus)

Hyungtaek called HiCAM an “intelligent CCTV” that can detect anything from fire and smoke to falls and SOS signals and send alert signals onboard and offshore. 

Younho Kang, team leader and senior researcher at KSOE, said “Pont.OS is a vessel level autonomous operating platform designed to handle and manage the various autonomous functions that happen in all phase of a vessel operations (arrival and departure of a port, navigation, cargo loading and unloading, docking and undocking etc.).”

As a classification society, ABS establishes rules and requirements for the design and construction of vessels and offshore units. To support the development of the industry, they have developed requirements addressing autonomous functions apply, not only to the navigation process, but also to the cargo handling and industrial processes.

“For a function onboard a vessel to be considered autonomous, it needs to be able to complete these four actions,” Gareth Burton, vice president of technology at ABS, said. “It needs to be able to monitor the situation, it needs to be able to make an analysis of that situation, of the information that's gathered. It needs to make a decision based on that analysis, and then it needs to take action.”

HHI’s software are solutions tailor-made for the specific problems that ships and a marine environment present. The HiNAS 2.0 autonomously handles the navigation, while the HiCAM and the HiCBM focus on the safety of the ship and the people in it, and the Pont.OS focuses on the infrastructure and controlling autonomous functions.

Likewise, Avikus focuses on the navigation and KSOE focuses on the autonomy. The tools that Avikus and KSOE use are comprehensive and complete solutions for the autonomous vessels.