Global towage operator Svitzer reports that it has signed a new agreement to develop a fully remote controlled tugboat, working in collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime and classification society ABS.
The aim of the RECOTUG project is to develop a remotely controlled tug that will be able to perform a full towage operation with all operations controlled from a remote operations centre. Svitzer will provide a newly built tug with crew, while Kongsberg Maritime will implement the remote control systems and autonomous technology.
ABS will be in charge of ensuing safety standards are met and that regulatory approval is obtained to ultimately allow Svitzer to conduct commercial remote tug operations in the Port of Copenhagen.
“While we are still several years away from seeing remotely operated tugs with no crew on board in commercial operation, there is no doubt that advanced autonomy is progressing fast across the maritime industry,” said Ingrid Uppelschoten Snelderwaard, Svitzer’s global COO.
“At Svitzer, we are determined to be at the forefront of the innovation in this space to ensure we are well positioned to meet changing demands. We start with one tug and explore from there how to best leverage technology, improve safety and efficiency and meet our customers’ demand for reliable and cost-efficient services, also in the future.”
“Technology is changing our lives across the board and at Svitzer we want to influence and drive how technology will transform towage over time. Safety comes first, and this entire project is first and foremost relying on the implied safety case.”
The development programme is a continuation of a 2017 project between Svitzer and Rolls-Royce Marine (prior to its acquisition by Kongsberg) centred around remotely operated navigation of the Svitzer Hermod tug in the Port of Copenhagen.
That trial saw a number of remotely controlled, non-towage specific manoeuvres successfully conducted on water by the vessel master stationed at a remote operating centre on the quay side in Copenhagen harbour. These included berthing of the vessel alongside the quay, undocking, turning 360°, sailing for a short time and then safely docking again.
“We are delighted to work with Svitzer and ABS on this important collaboration. Kongsberg Maritime is leading the market in maritime autonomy and are involved in several projects that define the remote and autonomous vessel control systems for tomorrow; this venture takes that ground-breaking work a step further by integrating these key technologies into a new context of operation,” said Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime.
“At Kongsberg, we believe that digitalisation and enhanced automation are vital to ensuring a safe, sustainable and profitable future for the maritime industry, and the step forward represented by this project is of great importance in demonstrating the application.”