Singaporean shipbuilder Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) has started developing an autonomous tug that is expected to be one of Singapore’s first autonomous vessels when completed in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Keppel Singmarine Pte Ltd (Keppel Singmarine) will develop the tug, which will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage, with a grant of up to S$2 million ($1.48 million) from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund. The project comes after a memorandum of understanding signed by Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Center for Offshore Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) in April 2018 to develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications, which included channeling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.
“We are constantly looking out for the next new technology to pilot and testbed in an effort to develop Maritime Singapore to be more efficient, productive and technologically advanced,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA, in a statement. “We are pleased to support Keppel in their autonomous vessel project. This is one of five autonomous vessel projects that MPA is supporting as part of our Marine Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) test bedding program.”
The project involves retrofitting a 65 MT tug with systems such as position maneuvering, digital pilot vision and collision detection and avoidance. An onshore command center also will be set up to remotely control the vessel.
M1 will provide 4.5G network connectivity to establish standards and data transfer links in terms of latency and reliability for the ship to shore communication. It also will support Internet of Things maritime applications, Keppel O&M said Tuesday in a press release announcing the tug.