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SINGAPORE'S INTELLIGENT TUG COMPLETES INITIAL TRIALS

Friday, March 13, 2020 

Wärtsilä and PSA Marine have successfully completed initial sea trials for the 'IntelliTug' project, in which 'PSA Polaris', a harbour 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, PSA Marine,  Lloyd’s Register, the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS), and co-funded by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund. The trials, which began in September 2019, have verified the 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.

“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. We will be happy to share our MASS experience with other ports and coastal administrations,” said Capt M Segar, Assistant CEO (Operations) of MPA.

PSA Polaris is a 27m harbour 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 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.

“PSA Marine is constantly innovating to redefine the capabilities of our tugs. The achievement seen in the IntelliTug project is a testament that with strong partnership, alignment of purpose and the courage to innovate, ideas can be turned into reality. With the incorporation of feedback and experience from our tug masters, the smart technology developed in the IntelliTug project augments our tug masters’ situational awareness and amplifies their capabilities,” said Peter Chew, MD PSA Marine.

Before sea trials commenced, system integration and digital testing began with the use of Wärtsilä’s autonomous ship simulator. TCOMS has carried out further validation of the various data gathered from the sensor suite, as well as real-world performance of the tug through a physics-based digital twin that incorporated the effects of the physical environment faced in the sea trials. Lloyd’s Register has been closely involved throughout the project to support the development of the trials’ safety case, while collaborating on the human factors and technology design processes.

During the sea trials, a new smart navigation system - 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. At all times, the 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.

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.

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