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PSA Marine, Wartsila hail initial sea trials on autonomous tug a success

PSA Marine and Wartsila have announced the completion of initial sea trials on a harbour tug in Singapore under the IntelliTug project aimed at autonomous navigation.

The PSA Polaris, a harbour tug owned and operated by PSA Marine, has been retrofitted with a suite of Wartsila technology to enable autonomous navigation.

The trials started in Singapore in September 2019. The trials have verified the IntelliTug capability to avoid a variety of obstacles including virtual and real-life moving vessels.

The trials are part of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) initiative which aims to accelerate the industry’s R&D capability in this field and validate new MASS-related concepts of operations and technologies.

“It is critical that we prepare the port of Singapore for MASS. With MPA’s MASS regulatory sandbox, I am glad that Singapore can contribute to the sea trials and eventual adoption of MASS,” commented Captain M Segar, assistant chief executive (operations) of MPA.

The PSA Polaris is a 27-metre harbour tug with dual azimuth thruster controls, fitted with a sensor suite including Wartsila’s RS24 near-field high resolution radar and DP system.

During the sea trials, a new smart navigation system - which was developed during the project in cooperation with PSA Marine’s tug masters - was used to select destinations for the hundreds of test cases carried out. The system allows the user to easily see the routes plotted, with the avoidance of collisions, in real-time.

The smart navigation system also sends track and speed commands to the DP system, which drives the vessel along the route safely at varying speeds up to 10 knots. These manoeuvres are expected to follow set behaviours and meet success criteria to reach the destination. At all times, PSA Marine tug masters were able to determine if the tests were safe to continue and had full control to abort testing at any time where required.

Wärtsilä and PSA Marine will continue development work on the IntelliTug and its systems throughout 2020, working towards continuous deployment of smart capabilities in real-life harbour craft operations to complement and enhance the capabilities and experience of human tug masters.

The project is a collaboration between Wärtsilä, PSA Marine, classification society Lloyd’s Register, the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS), and co-funded by MPA’s Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund.

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