Keppel Offshore & Marine has, through its subsidiary Keppel Singmarine, embarked on the development of an autonomous tug, to be operated by Keppel Smit Towage.
The tug is expected to be one of Singapore’s first autonomous vessels when the project is completed in the fourth quarter of 2020.
To develop the autonomous tug, Keppel O&M has secured a grant of up to SGD 2 million (USD 1.47 million) from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund (MINT FUND).
This follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) in April 2018 to jointly develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications including undertaking harbour operations such as channelling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.
The project will involve modifying a 65 MT tug by retrofitting advanced systems such as position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision, as well as collision detection and avoidance. An onshore command centre will also be set up to remotely control the tug.
“Autonomous vessels are the next exciting phase of development in the maritime industry and in Maritime Singapore. Here, 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,” Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said.
As part of the project, Keppel O&M, through its technology arm, Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech), will work with MPA and TCOMS to develop various technologies and be the system integrator for the autonomous solutions.