Singapore’s Keppel Offshore & Marine has embarked on the development of an autonomous tug through its subsidiary Keppel Singmarine.
The tug will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage upon completion of the project in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Keppel has secured supporting funds of S$2m ($1.47m) from Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund.
The project follows Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) signing a MOU last April to jointly develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications including undertaking harbour operations such as channeling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.
Under the project, Keppel will modify a 65 mt tug by retrofitting advanced systems such as position maneuvering, digital pilot vision, as well as collision detection and avoidance while an onshore command centre will also be set up to remotely control the tug.
Additionally, Keppel O&M, through its technology arm, Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech), will work with MPA and TCOMS to develop various technologies and be the system integrator for the autonomous solutions.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with the development of autonomous tugs that are commercially viable. 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,” said Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M.
“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,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA.