A subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine has started work on a project which aims to have Singapore’s first autonomous vessel operating by the end of 2020.
Keppel O&M’s subsidiary Keppel Singmarine will work on retrofitting the technology necessary to allow a 65 MT tug boat to operate autonomously, following the award of a US$1.5 million boost from the Singapore Maritime and Port Authority’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund.
The project, which is expected to be completed towards the end of 2020, comes after Keppel O&M signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in April 2018 with MPA and Singapore’s Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine (TCOM).
Advanced systems including position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision and collision detection and avoidance technology will be fitted to the tug, which can be operated remotely by Keppel Smit Towage from an onshore command centre.
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Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M, said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with development of commercially viable autonomous tugs. Maritime is transforming and we are glad to be partnering with MPA and TCOM for exploring how to improve the industry with new technologies.”
Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology will be the systems integrator for the autonomous control technology, which will be developed with a digital twin of the tug to simulate vessel behaviour and to optimise its control. American Bureau of Shipping will act as certifying authority for the project’s remote navigation systems.
The Chief Executive of MPA, Quah Ley Hoon, said: “Autonomous vessels represent the next exciting phase of development in the maritime industry. We are constantly looking out for new technology to test for advancing our operations and we are pleased to be supporting Keppel in its autonomous vessel project.
“This is one of five similar initiatives that MPA is involved in through the Marine Autonomous Surface Ship testbed programme.”