The UK engineering company Rolls-Royce and the international towage operator Svitzer have demonstrated the world’s first remotely operated commercial vessel in Copenhagen harbour, Denmark.
“I believe this was a world first and a genuinely historic moment for the maritime industry. We’ve been saying for a couple of years that a remotely operated commercial vessel would be in operation by the end of the decade,” said Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President, Marine.
Earlier this year at Copenhagen, one of Svitzer’s tugs, the Svitzer Hermod, 461gt and 28m long, safely carried out a number of remotely controlled manoeuvres. The tug’s captain was stationed in a control centre at Svitzer headquarters and berthed the vessel alongside the quay, undocked, turned 360 deg, and piloted the tug to the Svitzer HQ, before berthing again.
The companies have signed an agreement to continue their cooperation to test remote and autonomous operations for vessels. The primary systems involved will be autonomous navigation, situational awareness, a remote control centre and communication.
“Svitzer is engaging in projects that allow us to explore innovative ways to improve the safety and efficiency of towage operations,” said Kristian Brauner, chief technology officer, Svitzer.
The Svitzer Hermod was built at the Sanmar yard in Turkey in 2016 and she is equipped with a Rolls-Royce Dynamic Positioning System, which is the key link to the remote controlled system.
The tug had a range of sensors which combined different data inputs using advanced software to give the captain an understanding of the vessel and her surroundings. The data was transmitted to the remote operating centre (ROC) from where the captain controlled the vessel.