JUNE 20, 2017 — Rolls-Royce and global towage operator Svitzer have successfully demonstrated the world’s first remotely operated commercial vessel in Copenhagen harbor, Denmark.
Earlier this year, one of Svitzer’s tugs, the 28 m long Svitzer Hermod, safely conducted a number of remotely controlled maneuvers.
From the vessel’s remote base at Svitzer headquarters, the vessel’s captain berthed the tug alongside the quay in Copenhagen harbor the vessel’s captain, undocked, turned 360°, and piloted it to the Svitzer HQ, before docking again.
Throughout the demonstration the vessel had a fully qualified captain and crew on board to ensure safe operation in the event of a system failure.
Rolls-Royce and Svitzer, which is part of the Maersk Group, have signed an agreement to continue their cooperation to test remote and autonomous operations for vessels.
The primary systems involved will be autonomous navigation, situational awareness, remote control centre and communication.
“We’ve been saying for a couple of years that a remotely operated commercial vessel would be in operation by the end of the decade,” said Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Marine who witnessed the event. “Thanks to a unique combination of Svitzer’s operational knowledge and our technological expertise, we have made that vision a reality much sooner than we anticipated.”
Kristian Brauner, Chief Technology Officer, Svitzer said; “Disruption through innovation is happening in almost every industry and sector and technology will also be transforming the maritime industry. As the largest global towage company, Svitzer is actively engaging in projects that allow us to explore innovative ways to improve the safety and efficiency of towage operations to benefit our customers and our crews. With its direct impact on our customer performance, operational cost and environmental footprint vessel efficiency remains a main driver now and going forward. We are proud to be partnering with Rolls-Royce in this high-level research and development of systems for remote operation.”
The Robert Allan Ltd. designed Svitzer Hermod was delivered by Turkey’s Sanmar shipyard in 2016. It is equipped with a Rolls-Royce Dynamic Positioning System, which is the key link to the remote controlled system.
The vessel is also equipped with a pair of MTU 16V4000 M63 diesel engines from Rolls-Royce, each rated 2,000 kW at 1,800 rpm.
The vessel also features a range of sensors which combine different data inputs using advanced software to give the captain an enhanced understanding of the vessel and its surroundings. The data is transmitted reliably and securely to a Remote Operating Center(ROC) from where the Captain controls the vessel.
The Remote Operating Center was designed to redefine the way in which vessels are controlled. Instead of copying existing wheelhouse design the ROC used input from experienced captains to place the different system components in the optimum place to give the master confidence and control. The aim is to create a future proof standard for the control of vessels remotely.
“Working on this project with Rolls-Royce and Svitzer and supporting them on the safe demonstration of the Svitzer Hermod is truly a landmark moment for LR and the industry,” said Lloyd’s Register’s Marine & Offshore Director, Nick Brown. “With autonomous ships likely to enter service soon, we have already set out the ‘how’ of marine autonomous operations in our ShipRight procedure guidance as it is vital these technologies are implemented in a safe way and there is a route for compliance. Lack of prescriptive Rules was no barrier for ‘de-risking’ the project and we provided assurance against LR’s Cyber-Enabled Ships ShipRight Procedure, whilst considering the safety implications associated with the first closed demonstration.”