Smart autonomous port operations demonstrated in Asia

The 'Maju 510' tugboat has been controlled by remote joystick technology in the Port of Singapore. Photo: ABB

The benefits of smart autonomous port operations are being demonstrated in Asia.

ABB, together with Singapore shipyard Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M), has successfully carried out South Asia’s first remote joystick control of a tugboat, in the Port of Singapore. The trial marks a major milestone in validating the increased safety and efficiency of tug operations utilising digital solutions already available today for nearly any kind of vessel.

“We are proud to have reached another milestone representing a significant step towards autonomous shipping, in close collaboration with Keppel,” said Juha Koskela, division president, ABB marine & ports. “The intent of this technology is to relieve the crew of tasks that can be automated, enabling them to perform at their best during critical periods and enhancing the overall safety and productivity of marine operations. This trial also confirms the possibility for application of remote and autonomous technology to other vessel types.”

ABB vessel control

ABB’s technology and Keppel O&M’s technology solutions were retrofitted on the 32m harbour tugboat Maju 510. The vessel is owned and operated by Keppel O&M’s joint-venture company Keppel Smit Towage.

ABB delivered an integrated solution for the remote and autonomous control of the vessel. ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision provided the sensor fusion from onboard systems to generate a digital situational awareness, while ABB Ability Marine Pilot Control system executed the necessary intelligent manoeuvring and control commands.

The trial of remotely operating the harbour tug from a shore command centre located at the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation Lab was successfully performed in April 2021.

The harbour tug project is being funded by the MPA as part of the Singapore Maritime R&D Roadmap 2030. The second phase of the project, scheduled for late 2021, will see the vessel perform autonomous collision avoidance tasks while under remote supervision.

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