The dawn of the drone shipping era has come a step closer. Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has revealed details of a landmark test run whereby a PSV was controlled remotely 8,000 km away.
The testing, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of Dynamic Positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, was carried out on August 21 off the North Sea coast of Scotland in collaboration with Gulfmark Offshore, an American OSV operator.
The remote control navigating was carried out from the Wärtsilä office located in San Diego, California.
The vessel, the Highland Chieftain is an 80 m platform supply vessel already fitted with a Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum package for Navigation, Automation and Dynamic Positioning systems, as well as a Wärtsilä drives package. For the test, additional software was temporarily added to the DP system in order to route data over the vessel’s satellite link to the onshore work station in California.
The Wärtsilä testing was carried out using standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication. No land-based technology was used for the communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station. The retrofitting of the DP software was completed within just 30 hours.
The successful test was conducted over an almost four hour period during which time the vessel was driven through a series of manoeuvres at both high and low speeds. All the test procedures carried out went as planned, Wärtsilä reported today.
More pilot projects are envisaged soon by Wärtsilä including one looking at automated docking procedures.
Commenting on the news Kate Adamson, a regular Splash contributor and the founder of Futurenautics, said: “This is another step forward by an innovative company investing in building the smart marine ecosystem which will power the intelligent transportation systems of the future. Prioritising interoperability and simplicity and putting the customer at the centre is now absolutely critical.”