Keppel developing autonomous tug vessel for Singapore operations

Singapore port and Sentosa islandSingapore port and Sentosa island

Keppel said on Tuesday it was developing one of Singapore’s first autonomous tug vessels, which will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage.

For the project, Keppel Offshore & Marine obtained a grant of up to S$2 million from the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund, Keppel said in a filing to SGX on Tuesday.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with the development of autonomous tugs that are commercially viable,” Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M, said in the statement.

The project, which involves modifying a 65 MT tug by retrofitting systems including position maneuvering and collision detection and avoidance, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, the filing said.

Quah Ley Hoon, CEO of MPA, said autonomous vessels were the next phase of development for the maritime industry as it looks to become more efficient.

“This is one of five autonomous vessel projects that MPA is supporting as part of our Marine Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) test bedding program,” she said.

For the project, Keppel Offshore & Marine’s technology arm, Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology, will work with MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore to develop the technology and to be a system integrator for the autonomous services, the filing said.

The technologies will include a “digital twin” of the tug to simulate vessel behavior in multiple scenarios and improve vessel operations, and data analytics tools to improve control of the tug, Keppel said.

In addition, Keppel O&M is tying up with telco M1, which is also part of the Keppel Group, to use the telco’s ultra-low latency 4.5G network connectivity to establish standards and data transfer links for ship-to-shore communication and to support Internet of Things maritime applications, the filing said.

Keppel Offshore & Marine will take on the project via its wholly owned subsidiary Keppel Singmarine, the filing said.


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