DSME Completes Autonomous Navigation Test Using Remote Controls
South Korean shipbuilding company Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has become the latest to successfully test autonomous ship navigation capabilities. The effort to develop the new technology is part of the government’s drive for the shipbuilding industry to maintain its leadership by pioneering the much-anticipated technology.
The shipyard has been developing its DS4 smart ship platform that will permit fully autonomous operations. The shipbuilder has been working with the American Bureau of Shipping and in October 2021 announced the initial certification of the new technology. They have also worked with Korean Registry on the demonstration vessel.
Using a small demonstration boat named the DAN-V, the shipyard carried out tests of the autonomous navigation system. The vessel, which is reported to have similar navigation mechanisms to a large vessel, conducted two days of tests sailing approximately 18 miles offshore southwest of Seoul near Hwaseong City.
DSME reports the vessel successfully completed a series of demonstration tests. During last week’s demonstrations, they sent remote commands to the DAN-V from a centralized control station for tasks including starting and stopping the engine. The vessel also sailed along a planned route, turned to avoid a collision, and returned to its route once the obstacle had been cleared. All the testing was done remotely with no crew aboard the DAN-V.
Having completed the tests, DSME reports its system achieved level three certification which is for the remote operation of vessels without an onboard crew. They acquired Level 3 autonomous navigation classification from Lloyds Register.
DSME plans to continue with the system development, including moving to a test aboard a commercial vessel in 2023. The goal is to acquire Level 4 autonomous navigation by 2024 where the classification societies would be recognizing the vessel’s ability to operate fully autonomously with the operating system able to make decisions and determine actions independently without human supervision. DSME’s goal is to launch a large autonomous commercial ship installed with its smart ship platform in 2025.
In June 2022, rival shipbuilding Hyundai Heavy Industries through its subsidiary Avikus completed the first transoceanic voyage of a large merchant ship employing autonomous navigation technologies. During the voyage, the Prism Courage, a 97,500 dwt LNG carrier, operated autonomously creating the optimal route and also recognizing other vessels nearby, and plotting courses to avoid a collision. Approximately half the voyage, or a total of 5,400 miles, was operated using the HiNAS navigational system.
Both DSME and Hyundai are continuing to move forward with the development of their autonomous systems. They hope to capture a large portion of the estimated $235 billion market for autonomous navigation shipping.