ABB and Keppel verify next level of vessel autonomy with collision avoidance trials
Successful sea trials of harbor tugboat Maju 510 in Singapore verify autonomous collision avoidance capabilities of ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot technology
In an industry-first, the vessel developed by Keppel Offshore & Marine receives autonomous notations from American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Maritime and Port Authority in Singapore (MPA)
ABB's pioneering digital technology helps relieve the crew of tasks that can be automated, enabling them to perform at their best during critical periods and enhancing the overall safety of operations.
Digital technologies from ABB have enabled the harbor tug Maju 510 to become the first vessel in the world to receive Autonomous and Remote-Control Navigation Notation from ABS classification society and first Singapore-flagged vessel to receive the Smart (Autonomous) Notation from MPA. The notations acknowledge the breakthrough performance of the tug, demonstrating autonomous collision avoidance capabilities in trials conducted at Raffles Reserved Anchorage, off Singapore Island, in March 2022.
Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) is the project lead for the autonomous solutions on the Maju 510, which is owned and operated by Keppel Smit Towage, a member of Rimorchiatori Mediterranei. The vessel has already distinguished itself as the world's first vessel to secure the ABS Remote-Control Navigation Notation, following initial remote operation trials at the Port of Singapore in April 2021. The latest trials verified next level of autonomy, demonstrating automated situational awareness, collision avoidance, and maneuvering control provided by ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot Vision and Marine Pilot Control.
The 32-metre-long harbor tug demonstrated its ability to autonomously avoid collisions in various scenarios, such as when two other vessels approach simultaneously on colliding paths and when a nearby vessel behaves erratically. The trials were supervised by an onboard tug master.
Romi Kaushal, Managing Director, Keppel Smit Towage, said:
"I had the pleasure of being aboard Maju 510 during the collision avoidance trials and experiencing how smoothly the tug performed in autonomous mode. What I found particularly impressive was how the digital system identified one or several risks in the tug's planned path and responded to set the vessel on a new, safer course. The vessel performed as if it was operated by an experienced tug master."
By allowing the crew to focus on the overall situation rather than on performing specific maneuvers, the ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot product family enhances safety and efficiency in tug operations, which is particularly important in congested shipping hubs like Singapore, the world's busiest container port. Furthermore, the systems can be upgraded to enable higher levels of autonomy depending on local regulations and the requirements of the vessel.
Aziz Merchant, Executive Director, Keppel Offshore & Marine, said:
"As the systems integrator, Keppel O&M collaborated with ABB on customising the autonomous solutions to enhance the vessel's operational safety and efficiency. By liberating the crew of time- and energy-consuming tasks and improving accuracy during critical maneuvers, our autonomous solution has proven its ability to increase safety in even the busiest of ports. The autonomous solutions are future-ready to handle the growing demand of tug operations in Singapore port. Through digitalization, enhanced connectivity, and integrating ABB's technology, we are able to generate high accuracy positioning and maneuvering, with AI engines for marine object recognition and classification."