SINGAPORE (Apr 9): Keppel Singmarine, a subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) which is part of the Keppel Group, is set to develop Singapore's first autonomous tug.

The project will involve modifying a 65mt tug by retrofitting advanced systems such as position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision, as well as collision detection and avoidance.

An onshore command centre will also be set up to remotely control the tug.

When the project is completed in 4Q20, the tug will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage.

Keppel O&M is also partnering M1, another member of the Keppel Group, to leverage M1's ultra-low latency 4.5G network connectivity to establish standards & data transfer links in terms of latency and reliability for the ship to shore communication, and support mission-critical Internet-of-Things (IoT) maritime applications.

To develop the autonomous tug, Keppel O&M has secured a grant of up to $2 million from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund.

This follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) in April 2018 to jointly develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications including undertaking harbour operations such as channelling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.

Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M, says, "We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with the development of autonomous tugs that are commercially viable. The maritime industry is transforming and we are glad to be able to partner MPA and TCOMS in exploring how to improve the industry with new technologies."