Autonomous tug to complete 1150 mile pioneering journey


There are a number of self-contained vessels in development, but we have seen few self-contained commercial vessels plying the waterways. Now, a company called Sea Machines has announced that it will send an autonomous remotely operated tugboat on a 1,000 nautical mile (1,150 mile) “Machine Odyssey” trip around Denmark.

The tugboat (“Nellie Bly”) will have “full control on board the vessel managed by autonomous technology”, but will be operated under the authority of officers located in the United States. The goal is to show “global companies that operate fleets of cargo ships, tugs, ferries and many other types of commercial work boats that they can integrate stand-alone technology into their ship operations for a multitude of industries.” technological advantages ”.

Autonomous tug to complete 1150 mile pioneering journey

The tug will be piloted by Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous system equipped with long-range computer vision. It is a “propeller sensor” system that uses “path planning, obstacle avoidance replanning, vector nautical chart data and dynamic domain perception” to control a trip from the start. at the end. At the same time, it shows remote human commanders with information such as live augmented overlays of the mission, ship condition, situational awareness, environmental data and “audio and video. real-time video from the many streaming cameras “.

It looks like the Nellie Bly will set sail in front of Yara’s unmanned electric freighter which is slated to launch by the end of 2021. This vessel will use a 7 MWh battery and 900 kW propulsion system to sail at 13 knots from Herøya in Brevik, Norway – a distance of approximately 13 km (8 miles). The Sea Machines tug is built by the Dutch shipyard Damen and appears to be powered by a pair of outboard motors.

When the Sea Machines tugboat launches, you will be able to follow it yourself as the journey will be broadcast 24/7, the company said. It is expected to launch on September 30 from Germany.

Update at 12:50 p.m. ET: Updated this story to note that the boat will take off on September 30, one day earlier than originally planned.


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