Recently, competition is heating up among domestic shipbuilders to develop eco-friendly and fuel-saving smart vessels.
The market for autonomous ships and related equipment and materials is expected to grow 12.8 percent annually to reach US$155 billion in 2025, said Acute Market Sports, a shipbuilding and global market research firm on Sept. 9. Against this backdrop, major domestic shipbuilders are focusing on the development of smart ships to lead the market.
Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) introduced the world’s first smart ship in March 2011. Its autonomous navigation system allows a shipping company to monitor, remotely diagnose and control the operation of a vessel on land via a satellite. The number of smart ship orders amounts to 400 units a year, and the company is speeding up research and development on smart ships. In 2017, HHI developed the Integrated Smart Ship Solution (ISS) based on IoT technology.
In the first half of this year, the company installed “HiNAS” (Hyundai Intelligent Navigation Assistant System) on SK Shipping’s 250,000-ton bulk carrier, becoming the world’s first shipbuilder to apply a core technology for autonomous sailing to a large ship already in service.
HiNAS automatically recognizes surrounding vessels through camera analysis via artificial intelligence (AI) to determine and alert the risk of collision based on augmented reality (AR). Particularly noteworthy about this advanced navigation support system is that even when visibility is limited at night or by sea fog, it can analyze and provide comprehensive information, such as the location and speed of obstacles, using infrared cameras.
This year, HHI developed HiMSEN Engine on its own. The engine is loaded with cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and the IoT and is expected to save billions of won in fuel costs or cut 10 percent of cost per year.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) also plans to develop high-efficiency ships by using carbon-free and smart technology. It has delivered to HMM a smart ship based on its own platform Smart Ship 4.0. Furthermore, DSME continues to upgrade technologies for navigational environment measurement, maintenance and repair and safe navigation to ultimately realize autonomous navigation.
DSME plans to develop digital twin ships that can virtually detect risks in advance, an axial power generation motor system that produces electricity by rotating the axis of a ship’s engine while sailing, and an air lubrication system that uses air to reduce resistance. It expects these technologies to cut fuel costs.
Samsung Heavy Industries is busy developing eco-friendly technology to save fuel. The case in point is an air lubrication system, one of energy saving devices (ESDs). In particular, the company applied its own air lubrication system, SAVER Air, to LNG carriers, reducing their energy use 5 percent. In addition, it improved fuel efficiency by about 3 percent by applying SAVER Stator-D, a fuel-saving device that increases propellers’ power by equalizing the flow of seawater into the propellers.