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Keppel to develop its first autonomous vessel for operations in Singapore

KEPPEL Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Keppel Singmarine, will develop an autonomous tug that will be operated by Keppel Smit Towage.

It is expected to be one of Singapore's first autonomous vessels when the project is completed in 4Q 2020.

To develop the autonomous tug, Keppel O&M has secured a grant of up to S$2 million from the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) under its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund.Chris Ong, chief executive officer of Keppel O&M, said: "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 the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) in exploring how to improve the industry with new technologies."

The project will involve modifying a 65 MT 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.

Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA, said: "Autonomous vessels are the next exciting phase of development in the maritime industry and in Maritime Singapore. We are constantly looking out for the next new technology to pilot and testbed in an effort to develop Maritime Singapore to be more efficient, productive and technologically advanced. This is one of five autonomous vessel projects that MPA is supporting as part of our marine autonomous surface ship testbedding programme."

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As part of the project, Keppel O&M, through its technology arm Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology, will work with MPA and TCOMS to develop various technologies and be the system integrator for the autonomous solutions. These technologies include a digital twin of the tug to simulate vessel behaviour in multiple scenarios and optimise vessel operations, as well as data analytics tools to improve the control and response of the tug. 

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

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