Another major step has been taken in Singapore in the development of autonomous vessel operations
PSA Marine and Wärtsilä have passed a milestone in the autonomous vessel industry-defining IntelliTug project which seeks to prove the technology’s viability.
PSA Marine, a major tug owner, has initiated testing of remote control technology on its harbour tug, PSA Polaris. Trials are currently underway under real-world conditions, sailing PSA Polaris in the Port of Singapore.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is supporting PSA Marine’s autonomous technology project, and Lloyd’s Register has granted its class approval for the IntelliTug technology used onboard the vessel.
IntelliTug includes a new Dynamic Positioning (DP) system with a joystick manoeuvring module that the manufacturer claims enables easier and more intuitive control of the tug’s movement.
According to PSA Marine head of fleet management Bernard Wong, “The IntelliTug project is about discovering smarter, safer, and more efficient ways of operating a harbour tug. It incorporates human-centric technology, design thinking, and man–machine collaboration.
"We are on a journey of turning today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality,” he said.
Mr Wong outlined the IntelliTug project at Riviera Maritime Media’s Smart Tug Operations conference in Singapore in September 2019.
Wärtsilä’s DP system forms the foundational technology layer for the IntelliTug project, enabling digital navigation instructions to be passed through to the vessel’s propulsion system. The DP system has received a statement of compliance from Lloyd’s Register.
The LR DP notation wroks to endorse the system’s safety, reliability and performance. With IntelliTug technology, a tug master can engage ‘virtual anchoring’ to hold the vessel’s position or maintain the tug’s heading. And the wheelhouse DP technology enhances the capabilities of the tug master by autonomously performing a range of routine missions.
Ultimately, the IntelliTug project is working to demonstrate a way for existing tugs to be retrofitted with ’smart’ technology and to ensure the retrofitted technology is adequately tested.
Wärtsilä and PSA Marine intend to extend their collaboration by developing and field-testing intelligent vessel capabilities, which could create additional viable pathways to achieving safe and sustainable autonomous operations.
PSA Marine tug masters involved in IntelliTug underwent simulation and onboard training before commencing actual operational trials onboard PSA Polaris. Wärtsilä and PSA Marine said they will continue testing IntelliTug technology with more physical test-bedding and trials in Singapore port waters.