Wärtsilä, PSA Marine Move Forward with IntelliTug Project

The technology group Wärtsilä and terminal towage operator PSA Marine have achieved a breakthrough in IntelliTug, a project which aims to develop a harbor tug with autonomous navigation.

Following the successful installation of a first-of-its-kind dynamic positioning (DP) system onboard the harbor tug PSA Polaris, trials are now being carried out in the Port of Singapore under real-world conditions.

This phase of the project implementation, which has been approved by Lloyd’s Register, moves the bar higher on safety standards for vessel automation and autonomy. The Wärtsilä and PSA Marine IntelliTug project is also supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

The new DP system, also known as the joystick maneuvering system (JMS), enables easier and more intuitive control of the tug’s movement. With the push of a button, the tug master can achieve ‘virtual anchoring’ to hold position and/or maintain the tug’s heading.

The DP system also forms the foundational technology layer for the IntelliTug project, enabling digital navigation instructions to be passed to the vessel’s propulsion systems.

Given that PSA Marine operates in Singapore, the world’s busiest transshipment hub, and that the port is expected to double its capacity by 2040, Wärtsilä and PSA Marine are developing and field-testing intelligent vessel capabilities and viable pathways to achieve safe and sustainable autonomous operations. The solution can enhance the capabilities of the tug master by autonomously performing a range of routine missions. This will ease the task of addressing the complex demands faced by tug masters on a daily basis, according to the two companies.

“The IntelliTug project is about discovering smarter, safer, and more efficient ways of operating a harbour tug. It incorporates human-centric technology, design thinking, and man–machine collaboration. We are on a journey of turning today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality,” Bernard Wong, Head of Fleet Management at PSA Marine, commented.

“Safety and productivity are key areas being improved with our autonomous vessel technology. As we develop and learn from these technologies, the values we are able to provide … will grow exponentially, providing a very clear path for businesses needing to compete in the new intelligent maritime industry,” Paul Kendall, Wärtsilä’s Director of Sales, Dynamic Positioning, said.

Wärtsilä and PSA Marine will continue the development of the IntelliTug project throughout the coming months, including physical test-bedding and trials in Singapore port waters.