Innovative Steering Solutions for Autonomous Ships from Korea Maritime and Ocean University

Innovative Steering Solutions for Autonomous Ships from Korea Maritime and Ocean University

Posted on Apr 05, 2024 at 10:04 PM

In an ambitious leap forward for maritime technology, National Korea Maritime & Ocean University researchers have engineered a pioneering control method to redefine navigation for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). This innovative approach promises to navigate the complex and dynamic seascape more efficiently than ever.

A Novel Approach to Navigating the Waves

In the forefront of their pioneering work, the research team tackled a prevalent issue in the navigation systems of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) – a gap in the existing Model Predictive Control (MPC) frameworks that become evident in real sea conditions. This gap arises from traditional MPC systems' limitations in fully integrating the complex dynamics of wave forces. The solution proposed by the team, a groundbreaking mathematical model, introduces a time-optimal control technique specifically designed to navigate these challenges. 

Unlike physical devices that may only offer piecemeal improvements, this model provides a comprehensive method to account for wave loads on ships, ensuring more effective planning and control over the unpredictable seas. Through this innovative approach, the researchers have set a new standard for precision in maritime navigation, leveraging the power of mathematics to optimize the path and maneuverability of MASS amidst the myriad forces of the open sea.

Assistant Professor Daejeong Kim from the Division of Navigation Convergence Studies leads the charge. He emphasised the model's capacity to navigate and track targets effectively amidst dynamic sea conditions. This marks a significant departure from previous models that largely focused on calm sea scenarios, overlooking the reality of maritime operations.

Innovative Steering Solutions for Autonomous Ships from Korea Maritime and Ocean University

Harnessing the Power of Mathematical Modeling

The foundation of this revolutionary control system is a comprehensive mathematical model that captures the essence of forces such as wave loads acting on critical ship components, including the hull, propellers, and rudders. By shifting the mathematical model from a temporal to a spatial formulation, the researchers could significantly optimise manoeuvring time.

Integrating the models into a nonlinear MPC controller, the team conducted extensive simulations using an actual ship model navigating through varying sea conditions. The outcome was a nuanced understanding of how different control strategies can impact navigation planning and tracking phases, with a clear preference for including wave load considerations at both stages.

A Leap Towards Autonomous Maritime Navigation

The implications of this research extend far beyond the academic realm, signalling a transformative shift in the maritime industry's approach to autonomous navigation. With companies like Hyundai Mipo Dockyard at the forefront, South Korea is already witnessing the birth of its first autonomous navigation pilot vessels.

The Pos Singapore, South Korea's inaugural autonomous demonstration ship, is a testament to the nation's commitment to advancing autonomous operation technologies. This vessel will serve as a platform for testing core technologies such as intelligent navigation and engine automation systems, paving the way for a new era of maritime autonomy.

As the maritime industry continues to explore the potential of MASS, the contributions of the National Korea Maritime & Ocean University's research team cannot be overstated. Their work challenges the prevailing paradigms of ship control and charts a course towards safer, more efficient, and autonomous maritime navigation.



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