Autonomous tug with AI route optimisation completes Rotterdam demo

Maritime service provider KOTUG International, shipbuilding company Rotortug, and tech start-up Captain AI have completed a demonstration project involving a boat on the river Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam built to autonomously sail along an optimised route without human intervention.

The RT Borkum tug was installed with Captain AI’s Route Planner and Autopilot systems, with the software connected to KOTUG’s Optiport dispatch planning application to enable real-time optimised route planning, powered by Artificial Intelligence and based on AIS data.

“The route planner can be seen as the Google Maps for waterways,” said Vincent Wegener of Captain AI.

“It draws out the route, which the boat follows autonomously using our autopilot software.”

The partners note that the RT Borkum has now undergone several successful operational tests in the busiest port in Europe, demonstrating the combination of the autonomous planning and autonomous sailing technologies in practice.

“The digital captain has to know what the vessel’s destination is and how to get there in the most efficient way,” added Patrick Everts of KOTUG.

“Linking Captain AI’s software to OptiPort is not only making the skipper’s life easier, because vessels can autonomously navigate the optimal route, but is also saving on fuel and CO2 emissions.”

KOTUG and Captain AI have entered into a partnership on the back of the project to further develop and commercialise the software, to make it suitable for large-scale applications and further explore matters such as safety and regulatory compliance.

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About the Author

Rob O'Dwyer
Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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