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The empty bridge of tug RT Borkum as it is remotely controlled by a captain at a simulator on shore
The empty bridge of tug RT Borkum as it is remotely controlled by a captain at a simulator on shore

Kotug take 2019 MP Autonomous & Remote Operations Award

Remote controlled tug trials featured highly in nominations for the new Autonomous & Remote Operations Award

A new category this year recognised the development of technology that paves the way for innovative means of controlling ships. The winner of the Autonomous & Remote Operations Award from a crowded field – including several projects in the tugboat sector – was Kotug’s remote control trial, as part of which it controlled Tug Training & Consultancy’s (TTC) 15-m training Rotortug RT Borkum from more than 1,000 km away. The long range of the test, as well as its importance for the further development of remote control technology – both in the tug segment and or larger workboats and vessels – was noted by the panel.

A master used an Alphatron Marine integrated bridge simulator in the port of Marseille, France to control the tug in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The captain took control of the tug via a secure internet link over a 4G connection and visualised operations on board RT Borkum using camera images. The tug’s bridge systems and the simulator used were supplied by Alphatron Marine.

“A master used an integrated bridge simulator in the port of Marseille to control the tug in Rotterdam”

Connectivity for the Marseille trial and other Kotug tests was managed by M2M Blue, which provided a stable data connection with a virtual private network tunnel by combining local area network and 4G connection cellular networks. KPN provided the data SIM cards for the stable 4G internet connection.

Master commands made remotely on the simulator were converted to protocols that were transmitted to the tug over the internet. Information was then fed back to the remote centre over the 4G connection to the Alphatron simulator. Real-time sensor technology and video gave the remote captain the situational awareness needed for safe operation.

"We appreciate our efforts being recognised in this way," said Kotug innovation manager Koos Smoor, accepting the award. "We undertook this project together with several partners who worked on this with us to make it a success."


Highly commended

Autonomous ferry crossing by Kongsberg Maritime and Finferries: Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine (prior to the completion of its acquisition by Kongsberg) conducted the world’s first autonomous ferry crossing on board Finferries’ vessel Falco in December 2018, detecting and manoeuvring unaided around several obstacles before being remotely controlled for the return journey.

Remote control deployment by Rosetti Marino and Purple Water: Italian shipbuilder Rosetti Marino teamed up with Purple Water to demonstrate remote control of the 26-m double-ended tugboat Giano in another pioneering remote control pilot in the tug sector.

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