Keppel Singmarine to develop autonomous tug

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The project will involve modifying an existing Keppel Smit Towage tug

Keppel Offshore & Marine subsidiary Keppel Singmarine has begun the development of an autonomous tug that is expected to be one of Singapore’s first autonomous vessels when the project is completed in fourth quarter 2020. It will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage.

Keppel O&M has secured a grant of up to S$2 million (about US$1.48 million) for the project from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund (MINT Fund). operations.

The project will involve modifying a 65 MT tug by retrofitting advanced systems such as position maneuvering, digital pilot vision, as well as collision detection and avoidance. An onshore command center will also be set up to remotely control the tug.

Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “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. 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 programme.”

Keppel O&M’s technology arm, Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech), will work with MPA and TCOMS to develop various technologies and will be the system integrator for the autonomous solutions. A digital twin of the tug will be used to simulate vessel behavior in multiple scenarios and optimize vessel operations, as well as data analytics tools to improve the control and response of the tug.

ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) will provide the Approval in Principle for the vessel features such as Remote Navigation Control and Autonomous Control System.

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