Abu Dhabi Ports, Robert Allan to Develop World’s 1st Autonomous Tugs

The UAE-based port operator Abu Dhabi Ports has partnered up with Canadian naval architectural and marine engineering firm Robert Allan Ltd. to develop the world’s first fully unmanned autonomous commercial marine tugs.

The duo will closely work on the research and development of remotely-controlled marine tugs that will be fully unmanned, and be able to operate within a wide spectrum of autonomy.

Once developed, the tugs will join Safeen, Abu Dhabi Ports’ maritime service arm, which maintains a fleet of service vessels.

As explained, one of the primary advantages of the new design includes greater capability, as shifting the human element from on-board to on-shore will allow such vessels to operate in far more adverse weather conditions. Furthermore, the new technology will help increase efficiency and enhance operational safety.

The two companies have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect at the International Maritime Organization gathering in London.

“(T)his agreement marks a milestone in our digital transformation… It’s a top priority for Abu Dhabi Ports to lead the charge towards digitalising the region’s maritime operations,” Falah Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports, commented.

“Adopting digital solutions and keeping up with the changing demands of global trade have proven to be key drivers for economic growth and are integral towards achieving our goal of being a smart port,” he added.

“We are excited to cooperate with Abu Dhabi Ports in this initiative, which provides us with an optimal opportunity to develop the world’s first fleet of remotely-operated tugboats for the commercial sector,” Mike Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Robert Allan Ltd., said.

“The unique aspect of this project is the active participation of all the various stakeholders in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, which should ensure that we can progress smoothly from construction of the vessels to commercial operations,” Fitzpatrick continued.

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