HD Hyundai Delivers Bulker Designed to Operate "Without Engineer"

HD Hyundai
Courtesy HD Hyundai

Published Aug 25, 2023 1:03 AM by The Maritime Executive

HD Hyundai has delivered what it believes to be the first merchant ship with AI-enabled machinery monitoring and safety systems, which are designed to let the ship sail for extended voyages "without the help of a navigator, engineer, or deckhand."

The vessel is a newly-built 180,000 dwt bulker powered by LNG, and it is owned by H-Line Shipping. It is the first ship to be fitted with HD Hyundai's Integrated Condition Diagnosis Solution (HiCBM) and Integrated Safety Control Solution (HiCAMS). These systems are designed to diagnose equipment faults in real time and "automatically recognize emergencies," like shipboard fires. 

HiCBM monitors and manages large, core equipment like main engines, auxiliaries, compressors and pumps. It uses artificial intelligence to detect signs of failures in advance. HiCAMS uses onboard CCTV video feeds and artificial intelligence to watch for safety-related events in real time.  

The two systems address a less-discussed challenge of autonomous, unmanned shipping. Navigation automation systems have been created and trialed by many competing technology companies, including HD Hyundai, and have proven a high degree of functionality. With the right autonomous-navigation technology, the vessel can drive itself, and the bridge team can be relocated to a remote monitoring center. 

However, for longer over-the-horizon voyages, the equipment-maintenance and emergency-response functions of a human crew have yet to be automated. Monitoring systems that "play the role of an AI crew member" are a step in that direction. 

"With the commercialization of this engine automation solution, we are one step closer to the era of the world's first 'unmanned ship' in the field of large merchant ships," said HD Hyundai in a statement. 

"The advent of the era of autonomous ships based on artificial intelligence and digital technology is inevitable," added HD Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Executive Director Kwon Byeong-hun.