ABB, together with Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech), will retrofit a 32-meter harbor tugboat.
The vessel will be equipped with digital solutions, enabling autonomous vessel operations by the end of 2020. Upon project completion, the vessel is anticipated to be South Asia's first autonomous tug.
The initial phase of the project will see the tugboat complete a series of navigational tasks in a designated test area in the Port of Singapore, steered from an onshore control center. The second phase of the project will see the vessel perform autonomous collision avoidance tasks while under remote supervision.
"The intent of our technology is not to entirely remove the crew, but rather to relieve the crew from the tasks than can be automated and thus enable them to perform at their best during critical operations", commented Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports.
The project builds on the insights gained from the trial of a remotely operated passenger ferry Suomenlinna II, carried out in Helsinki harbor in November 2018. The Port of Singapore, which sees over 130,000 vessels calling annually, has exponentially denser shipping patterns, which will add another layer of complexity to the trials.