Autonomous Tug Completes Sea Trials
By Jack Burke13 March 2020
Wärtsilä and PSA Marine said they have completed initial sea trials for the IntelliTug autonomous navigation project.
The PSA Polaris, a harbor tug owned and operated by PSA Marine, has been retrofitted with a suite of Wärtsilä technology to enable autonomous navigation. The project is a collaboration between Wärtsilä, marine services provider PSA Marine, classification society Lloyd’s Register, the Technology Center for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS), and co-funded by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund.
Carried out in Singapore, the trials started in September 2019. The companies said the test showed IntelliTug’s capability to avoid a variety of obstacles, including virtual and real-life moving vessels. These trials are Singapore’s first for commercial Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) using the MPA MASS regulatory sandbox, which has been established to facilitate the testing of MASS and other autonomous technologies in a safe and controlled environment within the Port of Singapore.
The IntelliTug trials are part of MPA’s 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. This would enable technology developers, the research community, and maritime stakeholders to capture future MASS-related opportunities.
The PSA Polaris is a 27-m harbor tug with dual azimuth thruster controls. It has been fitted with a sensor suite, including Wärtsilä’s RS24 near-field high resolution radar and Wärtsilä’s Dynamic Positioning (DP) system, to enable autonomous capabilities. Data collection via the sensors has been ongoing since the start of the project in conjunction with the development of a collision avoidance algorithm.
The project is aimed at developing and field-testing intelligent vessel capabilities and viable pathways towards smarter, safer, and more efficient ways of operating a harbor tug. This is achieved through the provision of human-centric technology, design-thinking, and man–machine collaboration.
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 harbor craft operations to complement and enhance the capabilities and experience of human tug masters.