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A harbor tug has become the first vessel to be verified for autonomous collision avoidance in the Port of Singapore as the shipping industry’s push towards self-driving technology continues to advance.
ABB worked in collaboration with Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) on the project. The successful sea trials involved the Keppel Smit Towage tug Maju 510 which was used to verify autonomous collision avoidance capabilities of ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot technology in the Port of Singapore.
In what is said to be an industry-first, the Maju 510 becomes the first vessel in the world to receive Autonomous and Remote-Control Navigation Notation from international classification society ABS and the first Singapore-flagged vessel to receive the Smart (Autonomous) Notation from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
Maju 510 is already notable because it was the first to receive ABS Remote-Control Navigation Notation following initial remote operation trials at the Port of Singapore in April 2021. These latest trials verified the next level of autonomy by demonstrating automated situational awareness, collision avoidance, and maneuvering control provided by ABB technology.
During the trials, the 32-meter-long harbor tug demonstrated its ability to autonomously avoid collisions in various scenarios, such as when two other vessels approach simultaneously on colliding paths and when a nearby vessel behaves erratically. The trials were supervised by an onboard tug master.
“I had the pleasure of being aboard Maju 510 during the collision avoidance trials and experiencing how smoothly the tug performed in autonomous mode,” said Romi Kaushal, Managing Director, Keppel Smit Towage. “What I found particularly impressive was how the digital system identified one or several risks in the tug’s planned path and responded to set the vessel on a new, safer course. The vessel performed as if it was operated by an experienced tug master.”
In an earlier successful demonstration of ABB’s autonomous technology, the ice-class passenger ferry Suomenlinna II was remotely piloted through the Helsinki harbor using the same ABB technology used by the Maju 510.
ABB says autonomous navigation technology can crews to focus on the overall situation rather than on performing specific maneuvers, while also optimizing maneuvering to help prevent accidents, enhance productivity and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
“We are proud to build on our collaboration with Keppel Offshore & Marine and move yet another step closer to making autonomous tugboat operations a reality,” said Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports. “Our autonomous solutions are designed to support the crew in performing their duties as safely and efficiently as possible. The same technology can be applied to a variety of vessel types including wind turbine installation vessels, cruise ships and ferries.”
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