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Singaporean shipbuilder Keppel Offshore & Marine has kicked off development of its first autonomous vessel: a harbor tug to be operated by Keppel Smit Towage at the Port of Singapore.
The tug is expected to be one of Singapore’s first autonomous vessels when the project is completed in 4Q 2020.
The vessel is being developed by Keppel Singmarine Pte Ltd (Keppel Singmarine), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel O&M, with a grant of up to S$2 million from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund.
The project will involve modifying a 65 MT tug by retrofitting systems such as position maneuvering, digital pilot vision, and collision detection and avoidance, according to Keppel. An onshore command center will also be set up to remotely control the tug.
Development follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2018 by Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine of Singapore seeking to jointly develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications including harbor operations such as channelling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with the development of autonomous tugs that are commercially viable,” said Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M. “The maritime industry is transforming and we are glad to be able to partner MPA and TCOMS in exploring how to improve the industry with new technologies.”
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.”
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