ABB, experts in automation and logistics technology, have signed a landmark with Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech), to develop autonomous vessels and retrofit a 32-meter harbor tugboat with leading-edge digital solutions for the Port of Singapore.
In a statement, the project will see autonomous vessel operations in Singapore by the end of 2020 and the retrofitted vessel being the first autonomous tug in South Asia.
The initial phase of the project, the vessel, which will be operated by Keppel Offshore & Marine’s joint venture company Keppel Smit Towage, will complete a series of navigational tasks in a designated test area.
The second phase of the project will see the vessel perform autonomous collision avoidance tasks while under remote supervision.
Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports, said: “This project is a key marker on our digital journey as it demonstrates our capabilities as a leader in intelligent shipping technology and proves the success of our Electric. Digital. Connected. vision for the maritime industry.
“The intent of our technology is not to entirely remove the crew, but rather to relieve the crew from the tasks than can be automated and thus enable them to perform at their best during critical operations.”
In a statement, ABB said this project meant it was taking the next step towards autonomous shipping, building on the insights it gained from the ground-breaking trial of a remotely operated passenger ferry Suomenlianna II, carried out in Helsinki harbour in November 2018.
The trials aim to validate the increased safety and efficiency of tug operations by utilizing digital solutions that are already available today for nearly any kind of vessel.
Integral to them will be the ABB Ability Marine Pilot portfolio of solutions, which enable the ‘sense-decide-act’ loop required for any form of autonomy.
ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision will provide the sensor fusion from existing and new systems to generate a digital situational awareness while ABB Ability Marine Pilot Control will execute the necessary commands.