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AVIKUS PIONEERS IN AUTONOMOUS NAVIGATION
Avikus, HD Hyundai’s autonomous navigation in-house startup, has set out to disrupt the marine industry and it is succeeding. Spurred by first-of-its-kind, brilliant technological advances in the world of autonomous boating, Avikus has been making waves industry-wide. They are on the verge of changing the recreational boating sector as we know it. But where did they come from?
History of HD Hyundai
HD Hyundai started in a small fishing village in South Korea in 1972, when Hyundai Shipyard & Heavy Industries was founded under the leadership of CEO Chung Ju-yung. Focused specifically on shipbuilding, it grew exponentially until it became what it is today: one of the largest global ship and heavy equipment manufacturers on the planet. It rebranded as HD Hyundai in 2022 to mark its fiftieth anniversary.
Early Days of Avikus
Throughout the 2010s, as artificial intelligence became a hot topic for research across multiple industries globally, HD Hyundai began to investigate the practicality and use for AI in its field. They found that using AI in commercial shipping could have significant positive impacts, including increasing efficiency and safety across global shipping lanes. From there, they decided to work on developing the necessary technology to do so.
By 2020, HD Hyundai’s team created the world’s first-ever deep learning-based navigation assistant system, the HiNAS (Hyundai intelligent Navigation Assistant System), to be used for shipping. It was successfully commercialized in 2020 and in January 2021, Avikus was founded under the leadership of CEO Do-hyeong Lim to specialize in further advancements and developments in the world of autonomous navigation.
In June 2022 Avikus successfully carried out a real-world test of its autonomous navigation, becoming the first company in the world to navigate a large ship across the ocean. Together with SK Shipping, Avikus’s HiNAS autonomously navigated PRISM COURAGE, a 180,000 cubic meter ultra-large LNG carrier across the ocean.
The PRISM COURAGE departed from Freeport on the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on May 1, passed through the Panama Canal, and finally arrived at the Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Chungcheong Province in Korea after 33 days. The vessel sailed half of roughly 20,000 kilometers in total distance with the autonomous navigation technology. Avikus’s system created optimal routes and speeds and its artificial intelligence recognized the surrounding environment, such as weather and wave heights, and nearby ships, and then controlled the vessel’s steering commands in real-time. In this ocean crossing, the PRISM COURAGE was operated autonomously on the optimal routes, increasing fuel efficiency by around seven percent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about five percent. The system also accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships during operation to avoid collision about 100 times. This voyage was conducted under real-time monitoring of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Korea Register of Shipping (KR) to verify the performance and stability of the technology. Based on the success of this test, to date there have been 282 orders for the HiNAS system globally, of which 228 are on HD Hyundai ships and 54 on third-party commercial vessels. HiNAS is now standard on every new ship made by HD Hyundai.
Pioneering as Avikus
Taking its namesake from an ancient word for “Viking”, the Avikus team started out and continued to strive to be a pioneer on the ocean – in this case, to break ground in the world of autonomous boating technology. To reflect this, they took a Viking as their logo, in deep blue to represent the ocean.
With the success of HiNAS, the newly founded Avikus was determined to expand both the technological prowess of their product and its practical use. The obvious next step would be to take the technology that was proving so useful for commercial purposes and making it available to the recreational boat market.
Based on navigation data obtained through the wide use of HiNAS, the Avikus team was able to create a recreational version of its technology – NeuBoat. They unveiled the product and provided a full demonstration at the 2022 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Since its unveiling, Avikus’s technology has been attracting attention throughout the marine industry and beyond. The company is currently collaborating with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to spread its autonomous navigation technologies throughout commercial shipping.
In the recreational market, Avikus and marine electronics specialist Raymarine signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on the integration of NeuBoat into Raymarine’s navigational products. Its revolutionary nature is garnering nods for innovation with Neuboat being recognized at CES 2023 with an Innovation Award in the field of Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility. In addition, Avikus was selected as one of the 50 most innovative startups in the maritime industry by Thetius. With Neuboat set to begin the next phase of release into the market come this fall, Avikus and its team are on the precipice of revolutionizing the entire marine industry as we know it.