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KAIST develops robotic offshore docking system

South Korean engineers successfully tested the world’s first operational automatic docking system between two large ships off the country’s southeastern coast, a state-run science and technology university said Tuesday.
The test carried out in Busan, 453 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is an integral part of the larger “mobile harbor” project that aims to make it possible to speed up the loading and off-loading of cargo from large ships without the need for port facilities, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said. Such developments can make it possible for very large vessels to carry freight to relatively small ports.
It can also allow port operators to save money since they do not have to build berths needed by large ships.
KAIST said the docking system, which used rolls of powerful suctions, robotic arms and winches, secured a 93-meter container ship with a 48-meter sea-going barge in 10 minutes and in a very safe manner since no workers were employed in the process.
“In the past, docking two ships was a time consuming, labor intensive process that could be dangerous since people had to use large ropes to secure the two vessels together,” KAIST said.
It added that the new system was made possible by using newly built vacuum suctions produced in cooperation with local marine engineering companies such as Mirae Industries and Ocean Space Inc.
Because the system uses suctions, the two ships can be disconnected in 30 seconds in emergency situations. (Yonhap News)
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