Government Launches Autonomous Ship Development Project
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on June 17 that they will start a project to develop autonomous sailing technology based on artificial intelligence (AI).
The project is jointly promoted by the two ministries to commercialize autonomous vessels that will lead the shipbuilding and shipping industries in the future. The Korean government will invest about 160 billion won in the project for six years from 2020 to 2025.
The government intends to develop oceangoing ships that meet Level 3 autonomous navigation defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). For coastal vessels, the required level is Level 2.
A Level 2 vessel can be controlled remotely when the crew is on board, while a Level 3 ship is remotely controlled with the minimum number of crew on board and features such capabilities as predicting and diagnosing problems. If autonomous navigation reaches Level 4, autonomous operation will be possible without any crew members on board.
Shipping analysts believe that autonomous sailing technology will improve the economy and safety of operating ships as it allows vessels to explore optimal routes and reduces accidents caused by human errors. Autonomous ships are expected to be commercialized around 2025, creating a market of US$155 billion.
The government plans to develop intelligent navigation systems, which are the core technologt for autonomous ships, together with instrumental automation systems, communication systems, and land operation management systems. It plans to verify these systems by applying them to oceangoing ships.