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Containership Sails 800 NM Trip Using Samsung's Autonomous Navigation

Samsung autonomous navigation demonstration
Samsung reports the containership encountered 90 ships and identified 9,000 obstacles on the trip from South Korea to Taiwan (SHI)

Published Jul 6, 2023 2:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

Samsung Heavy Industries reports that it completed the first international test of its autonomous navigation technology building on previous tests of the system. The Korean shipbuilder is one of the companies seeking to develop a lead in the emerging technology.

The latest demonstration was conducted aboard a large containership with a capacity of 15,000 TEU. The ship sailed from the SHI shipyard in the southern city of Geoje into the East China Sea and reached Kaohsiung, Taiwan, a distance of over 800 nautical miles.

"Samsung Heavy Industries' advanced autonomous navigation technology has been proven by succeeding in demonstrating on global routes following the demonstration between Jeju Island and Dokdo last year," said Kim Hyeon-jo, head of the autonomous navigation research center at Samsung Heavy Industries.  He predicted the company will lead smart ship technology.

During the trip, the systems identified over 9,000 obstacles, such as other ships and buoys, all of which were within about a 30-mile radius of the containership. The ship encountered 90 other vessels during the six-day demonstration which took place between June 26 and July 1. According to Samsung, the routes developed by the autonomous system matched those developed by the vessel’s navigator more than 90 percent of the time.

The system used for the voyage integrates advanced autonomous technologies. Samsung reports the system analyzes information from the vessel’s AIS along with radar, camera sensors, and other sensors around the ship. This is an upgraded version of the software which further enhances the ability to accurately present safe routes when the vessel is encountering head-on and crossing vessel traffic.

In November 2022, Samsung demonstrated the autonomous navigation technologies on a smaller vessel the 9,200-ton Segyero, the training ship operated by Mokpo National Maritime University. During a four-day trial between November 15 and 18, 2022, the ship sailed over 500 nautical miles. It departed Mokpo in southwestern South Korea, sailing in the Yellow Sea, and Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the island of Dokdo. 

During that trial, they highlighted the vessel sailed through a busy fishing area encountering many small, fishing boats. They reported the system was recalculating the route every five seconds and dealing with multiple small boats around it at one time. The system successfully avoided 29 collision risks during that trial.

South Korean shipbuilders are among the companies leading the development of autonomous navigation technologies. In June 2022, the HiNAS 2.0 navigational system developed by Hyundai and its subsidiary Avikus demonstrated autonomous navigation during a 5,400 nautical mile Pacific crossing of a large gas carrier.

Japan is also moving forward with tests in a series of projects developing autonomous navigation technologies for ocean-going vessels. In Norway, testing is underway on several cargo barges and ferries designed to move trailers. Norway looks to proceed with the certification process with the classification societies to launch fully autonomous ship operations.