A government task force was launched in June to develop core technologies for autonomous ships and prepare a foundation for early commercialization, using new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and internet of things. The task force would provide a foundation for commercialization through the integrated demonstration of ships.
Some 160 billion won ($142 million) would be spent for six years on developing the second level of technologies for coastal navigation and the third level for ocean navigation. The consortium selected on November 6 involves Pan Ocean, a shipping company, and POS SM, a comprehensive ship management company.
"The self-sailing ship is expected to serve as a model case for a digital new deal by promoting the digitalization of the marine logistics ecosystem," Oceans and Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok said. "We will provide support at various levels for successful development and commercialization."
Separately, Moon's office signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Register (KR), a classification society offering verification and certification services for ships, and the state-run Korea Research Institute of Ships & Ocean Engineering (KRISO). KR would create certification procedures and provide certification services while KRISO is responsible for upgrading core technologies.
Smart shipping can be divided into unmanned ships ruled by an operator from a control center onshore and autonomous ships that use a computer on board that takes decisions about the route, speed, fuel consumption, maintenance and even mooring in the harbor.
South Korean shipbuilders have tried hard to develop smart ship technologies. In January, Hyundai Heavy Industries released a smart ship management system that allows human managers to work remotely from a control tower to monitor the operation of ships and engines in real-time and find optimized routes.
Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) has partnered with DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered in Norway, to develop smart ship technology. SHI tested a 300-ton tug boat installed with self-sailing equipment near the southern island of Geoje in October.
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